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National Family Caregiver Support Program
The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) provides five critical categories of supportive services to family caregivers of older individuals, as well as grandparents and other relatives aged 55 and older who are raising children. Written broadly to provide flexibility and responsiveness to the needs of caregivers, these include:
  • Information to caregivers about available services
  • Assistance to caregivers in gaining access to the services
  • Individual counseling, organization of support groups, and caregiver training to assist the caregivers in the areas of health, nutrition, and financial literacy and in making decisions and solving problems relating to their caregiving roles
  • Respite care to enable caregivers to be temporarily relieved from their caregiving responsibilities
  • Supplemental services, on a limited basis, to complement the care provided by caregivers
The fifth category, supplemental services, is particularly broad. Some Area Agencies on Aging, for example, provide legal assistance to grandfamilies through this category.

How are NFCSP services delivered?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging (AoA) administers the NFCSP and provides funds to the states. They fund Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) that either directly provide services, or contract with another support provider. The AAAs, according to the law, must coordinate with community agencies and voluntary organizations that provide similar supportive services. Some of the most successful AAAs serving grandfamilies collaborate with a broad range of community based organizations including those associated with serving children, such as schools and Head Start programs.

When was the NFCSP created?
On November 13, 2000, the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) became law as part of the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act. In 1999-2000, Generations United worked with Members of Congress to include grandparents and other relative caregivers in the NFCSP. In 2006, we persuaded Congress to lower the eligibility age from 60 to 55, thereby increasing the number of eligible caregivers from 29 to 47 percent.

Help Change the NFCSP to Better Serve Grandfamilies
Every five years, Congress is supposed to review the NFCSP through a process called reauthorization. This presents an opportunity to recommend changes that can improve the program to better serve grandfamilies. Generations United would like to hear from you as we plan our recommendations for reauthorization in 2011. If you have suggestions for improving the program please contact us to share your thoughts.

Resources
Grandfamilies: Their Inclusion in the National Family Caregiver Support Program (A Spanish version is also available) (PDF)
The Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center
The U.S. Administration on Aging
Promising Practices in Encouraging and Supporting Grandparents and Relatives Raising Children (PDF)
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