What is the National Caregiver Support Program?

The National Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) is a congressional initiative created in 2000 to offer grants to States and Territories and enable family and informal caregivers to provide care for their relatives at home for as long as it is possible. Through the NFCSP, States offer caregivers five different types of services:

  1. Information about available services.
  2. Assistance in accessing those services.
  3. Individual counseling, support group organization, and training.
  4. Respite care.
  5. Supplemental services (on a limited basis).

Most caregivers encounter emotional, physical and financial obstacles, especially if they have a day job in addition to their long-term care duties. 22% of caregivers have two care receivers, and 8% care for three individuals or more. Moreover, approximately half of all caregivers are 50 years old or older and their own health – which one third describe as fair to poor – is declining. Studies have found that the aforementioned services, together with other State and community-based services, can decrease depression, anxiety, and stress in caregivers. As a result they can provide care longer, which in turn postpones the need for expensive institutional care.

Who is eligible?

Per the 2006 Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, the following individuals qualify for NFCSP services:

·         Adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 and older caring for individuals 60 years of age and older.

·         Adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 and older caring for individuals of any age with Alzheimer’s disease and associated conditions.    

·         Grandparents and other relatives (not parents) 55 years of age and older caring for children under the age of 18.

·         Grandparents and other relatives (not parents) 55 years of age and older caring for adults age 18-59 with disabilities.

More than 700,000 caregivers received NFCSP services in 2010 – the latest year for which information is available. More than one million contacts were given to caregivers to help them find services from a number of private and voluntary agencies; more than 125,000 caregivers were given counseling and training to manage stress as well as participated in peer support groups; and over 64,000 were rewarded with 6.8 million hours of temporary relief at home or in an adult day care or institutional setting in the form of respite care.

According to the Administration on Aging’s national surveys, 77% of caregivers say that services allowed them to provide care longer than they would have been able to; 89% said that services mad them better caregivers; almost 50% of caregivers of nursing home eligible care recipients reported that the care recipient would not be able to remain at home without the support services; and about 12% of family caregivers said they were providing care for a grandson or granddaughter.