Virginia’s Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services made a big announcement last week, reporting that caregivers for a loved one with disabilities or chronic illness in Virginia could apply for vouchers up to $400 to help pay for respite care. This is positive, real world impact stemming from the excellent work of MS activists.
The state’s grant is funded by the Lifespan Respite Care Program, a federal program which provides grants to state agencies to ensure that quality respite is available for family caregivers across the lifespan. Every year, MS activists advocate for Congress to fund the Lifespan Respite Care Program. Since it has been funded the past few years, Virginia was able to apply for and receive this grant funding that is now supporting family caregivers in the state.
Virginia’s family caregivers are not alone. According to a 2011 AARP report, 61.6 million family caregivers provided care at some point during 2009. This includes family members of people with MS, as well as many other conditions and diseases. Family caregivers enable loved ones to stay at home, keep families healthy and save the system money. The value of family caregivers’ uncompensated services is estimated to be $450 billion a year.
Activists in Virginia attended Virginia Caregiver Coalition meetings and met with various public officials such as the Commissioner of the Department of Rehabilitative Services to highlight the need for this grant and urged them to apply for federal funding. Congrats to these activists and the state—their advocacy efforts made a difference!
The grant will distribute vouchers until the end of July in Virginia and the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services estimate that as many as 450 families could be served through this grant.
If you are resident of Virginia and are interested in applying for a voucher, please click here.