A3514, approved in a 79-0 vote by the assembly, would establish an 11-member New Jersey Caregiver Task Force, charged with looking at how to bolster support services for unpaid caregivers.
Those kinds of caregivers, according to the sponsors, encompass any person who cares for an elderly family or friend and assists with their daily tasks without compensation.
According to a statement from the Assembly Majority Office, as many as 1.75 million unpaid caregivers exist in the state,
“Caregivers face an untold number of challenges in today’s society,” Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, D-6th District, said in a statement.
“Many family caregivers are fulfilling these duties out of a sense of love and devotion, which can often make them feel anxious and overwhelmed,” Lampitt added. “We want to make sure we are doing all we can to provide them with the resources and support they need to fill this critical role.”
The upper house version, Senate Bill 959, passed with a 40-0 vote in the state Senate on Oct. 29, and it would now be up to Gov. Phil Murphy to approve or veto the legislation.
Caregiver support services can include financial assistance from public or private employers, hospitals, health care providers or government agencies, according to the bill.
“Caregiving can take a serious emotional and physical toll that often leads to a series of negative consequences in the caregivers’ own lives,” Sen. Joe Vitale, D-19th District, said in a statement.
The task force would include the state human services commissioner, three appointees from the governor and seven designees from advocacy groups such as the American Association of Retired Persons, the Home Care and Hospice Association of New Jersey, The Arc of New Jersey and the Alzheimer’s Association Greater New Jersey Chapter.
“Caregivers can lose as much as $659,000 in wages, pensions and Social Security over the course of their career,” Vitale added. “We need to formulate the right kind of support for caregivers now, so that when the number of New Jersey’s adults needing assistance with daily activities doubles in 2020, we will be prepared to help.”