Legislation for "Caregiver Corps" to be proposed by Casey
Ben Allen, WITF General Assignment Reporter | 08.19.14
(Lancaster) -- The United States has a Peace Corps and Americorps. Now, Pennsylvania's senior U.S. senator wants to create a "caregiver corps".
It would be similar to the Peace Corps or Americorps: pledge up to 2 years of service and a volunteer could get compensation like stipends, college tuition, academic credit, or volunteer hours.
U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D) says those in the corps would help out anyone over age 65 or individuals eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance.
They would lighten the load for caregivers who often have to available 24/7, by taking care of things like shopping or cooking.
"The work that is done by caregivers and the work that is done by family members, in so many cases, and I'd venture to say in every case, is an act of love," says Casey.
Photo by Ben Allen/witf
Senator Bob Casey says he knows there's a gap in care-taking in the nation.
He says the government should be doing something to support those who are often burdened with a full time job on top of closely monitoring a parent or sometimes, two.
"When a 49 year old woman is caring for her aging mother, she's not doing it because some law told her to," says Casey.
"We've got to help her. We can't carry her whole burden every day, but at least somewhere along that path that she's walking, we can help lift that burden."
In trips across the Commonwealth, Casey said others raised the issue to him, pushing him to formulate legislation.
Agencies on aging, volunteer groups, colleges and universities, plus state, county, and local governments could all set up a hub as part of the Caregiver Corps. Any hub would be responsible for running background checks of volunteers, providing training, and matching up volunteers with those in need. Any type of compensation would also come from local hubs.
He plans to introduce the bill next month, and says he's just starting to approach other U.S. Senators about supporting his effort. Senator Casey says he's not sure about any cost, but called it "minimal" and says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services may already have the necessary funding to get a program up and running.