What's Happening in the WFACSA

Press Releases and Recent Events

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 1, 2020

 

Wisconsin Family and Caregiver Support Alliance Urges Celebration and Support for Family Caregivers in November and Year-Long

 

Madison, WI – Members of the Wisconsin Family and Caregiver Support Alliance are urging everyone in the state to take time out this November to recognize the contributions of family caregivers, not only to their loved ones, but to their communities and the economy. Wisconsin’s 580,000 family caregivers provide an estimated $6.9 billion worth of care annually.

 

The Governor has proclaimed November as Family Caregiver Month, recognizing that family caregivers do a variety of complex, often medical tasks daily while struggling to balance their own personal needs and sometimes outside employment. Here are some key facts:

 

  • Six out of 10 caregivers are employed, with 70% of working caregivers suffering work-related difficulties.
  • More than 7,000 children in Wisconsin are being raised by a relative when birth parents are unable to safely care for them
  • 11% of caregivers live more than an hour away from the loved ones they are caring for
  • In Wisconsin currently 64% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities live with family and 25% of these family caregivers (typically parents) are over 60 years old.

 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the struggles of family caregivers, many have gone months without a break,” says Lisa Schneider, WFACSA Steering Committee member and Executive Director of Respite Care Association of Wisconsin. “There is no better time to thank them.”

 

WFACSA is celebrating the month with four theme weeks, focusing on the contributions of different members of the caregiver population: Each week we will focus on different segments of caregiving:

 

Week 1:  Kinship Care/Relatives as Parents Program

Week 2:  Employed Family Caregivers

Week 3:  Caregivers Across the Lifespan:  From teenagers to seniors in their 80’s & 90’s

Week 4:  Long Distance Family Caregivers

 

Wisconsin's Family Caregiver Support Program’s Facebook page will feature these events with daily challenges and prize drawings.

 

“Members of WFACSA encourage everyone to do what they can to celebrate and thank a caregiver, especially this month,” says Jane Mahoney WFACSA Steering Committee member and Caregiver Support Specialist. “A ‘thank you’ can be sending a note, offering to do a chore, picking up groceries or simply checking in. The important thing is for this work to not go unnoticed.”


 

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 1, 2020

Family Caregivers Celebrate Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving Recommendations: Request Swift Implementation

Madison, WI - Family caregivers across Wisconsin are celebrating the recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving that will improve conditions and support for family caregivers statewide. Included among the 16 proposals are investments in respite care and other supports to strengthen what Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) can provide, a family caregiver tax credit, recommendations to expand family medical leave and a family caregiver assessment tool that will help identify caregivers in crisis earlier. You can read all the recommendations in the Task Force’s final report here.

 

The Task Force, which includes various representatives from the Wisconsin Family and Caregiver Support Alliance (WFACSA), has been meeting and discussing family caregiver and direct care workforce issues for the past year. There are an estimated 580,000 family caregivers in Wisconsin who shoulder 80 percent of all care in the state. According to AARP’s report, these caregivers provide 490 million hours of care annually valued at $6.9 million.

 

“WFACSA is proud to have been a key stakeholder in the Task Force work and our members believe these recommendations will truly make a difference,” says Lisa Schneider, WFACSA member, Task Force appointee and director of the Respite Care Association of Wisconsin. “Wisconsin caregivers are under extraordinary stress; solutions are needed now.”

 

In a 2019 WFACSA Survey of Wisconsin family caregivers (more than 600 respondents), nearly 3/4 of caregivers said they were not meeting their own personal needs and 2/3 had difficulty balancing caregiving and their employment. 72 percent were tired or worn out all the time while 90 percent said their emotional or physical health had worsened. (See all survey results here.)

 

 “We know that people are going without care and family caregivers are working without getting a break these days,” says Jane Mahoney, WFACSA member, Task Force appointee and Caregiver Support Specialist with the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources, Inc. “COVID-19 has made this crisis worse, as many of the supports available to care recipients and caregivers are more limited, or families are trying to do everything themselves to limit outside contact and keep their loved one safe.”

 

The Task Force report highlights the key issues for family caregiving, as well as the impact of the pandemic and health disparities.

 

“We hope the Governor can work with state agencies and the legislature to get many of these recommendations implemented as soon as possible. Help is needed now,” says Schneider.

  


Wisconsin Family & Caregiver Support Alliance holds Annual Caregiver Summits

Each year WFACSA celebrates the work of the alliance by holding a summit that focuses on increasing awareness of caregiving across the state and improving supports for these caregivers.  In 2020, the summit took the form of a series of webinars addressing three different topics on three consecutive Wednesdays in September.  Below you will find links to the recordings of these webinars.

 

In September of 2019, a group of family caregiver advocates and experts from across the state gathered in Madison to discuss the needs of families and caregivers.  The group heard the results of the statewide caregiver survey, learned about the Governor's Task Force on Caregiving and listened to a panel of employers who have prioritized supporting their employees who are also caregivers.   The following materials presented at that Summit.

 

 

 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 15, 2019

Wisconsin Employers Report the Impacts of Caregiving while
State Recognizes National Caregivers Day

 

Madison, WI - The Wisconsin Family and Caregiver Support Alliance is releasing the results of its new statewide employer survey to recognize February 15 as National Caregivers Day. See the full summary of the results here:  Employer Survey Summary
National Caregivers Day is observed annually on the third Friday in February, recognizing the careproviders, both paid and unpaid, who provide personal cares of all types to people with disabilities, older adults and other family members and friends who require support to remain healthy and living in their homes and communities.
It is estimated that in Wisconsin, 549,000 caregivers are providing 588,000 million hours of care to loved ones annually, valued at nearly $6 billion dollars.
Employers recently confirmed the impact of caregiving on the Wisconsin workforce in a survey sponsored by WFACSA and released this month.  Read full News Release here:  National Caregivers Day Press Release.

 

Wisconsin Health News: November 19, 2018

Alliance aims to support family caregiving in the state

 

“Caregiving is going to be a very big issue in the near future,” said Lynn Gall, family caregiver program coordinator at the Department of Health Services and co-chair of the alliance.

Lisa Pugh, director of the Arc Wisconsin and co-chair of the alliance, said organizations involved in the group were previously working in “silos on the aging side, silos on the disability side.” Together, they’ve been able to identify caregiver issues across the populations.

“There are really great resources in both arenas that we really should be sharing,” she said.
 
The alliance isn’t a lobbying organization, but it's looking at how to inform policymakers about changes that could support caregivers.

For example, the alliance had been exploring exceptions to background checks and professional credentials to help caregivers hire family members or other workers they want.

Other policy fields they’re looking into include upping wages for caregivers, increasing respite care funding, paid family and medical leave, creating a registry connecting families to workers in their area and a tax credit for family caregivers.

Pugh added that Wisconsin also hasn’t “really accessed” federal funds for respite care in the same way that other states have and has a less "complete infrastructure" in terms of respite care.

The alliance is also surveying employers on how family caregiving has impacted their business. So far, they’ve heard from around 200 employers, who reported that caregiving has increased emotional stress, led to work schedule changes, requests for personal time off or reduced work hours.

“We want to engage employers as being partners and finding solutions,” Gall said.“Caregiving is going to be a very big issue in the near future,” said Lynn Gall, family caregiver program coordinator at the Department of Health Services and co-chair of the alliance.

Lisa Pugh, director of the Arc Wisconsin and co-chair of the alliance, said organizations involved in the group were previously working in “silos on the aging side, silos on the disability side.” Together, they’ve been able to identify caregiver issues across the populations.

“There are really great resources in both arenas that we really should be sharing,” she said.
 
The alliance isn’t a lobbying organization, but it's looking at how to inform policymakers about changes that could support caregivers.

For example, the alliance had been exploring exceptions to background checks and professional credentials to help caregivers hire family members or other workers they want.

Other policy fields they’re looking into include upping wages for caregivers, increasing respite care funding, paid family and medical leave, creating a registry connecting families to workers in their area and a tax credit for family caregivers.

Pugh added that Wisconsin also hasn’t “really accessed” federal funds for respite care in the same way that other states have and has a less "complete infrastructure" in terms of respite care.

The alliance is also surveying employers on how family caregiving has impacted their business. So far, they’ve heard from around 200 employers, who reported that caregiving has increased emotional stress, led to work schedule changes, requests for personal time off or reduced work hours.

“We want to engage employers as being partners and finding solutions,” Gall said.