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Include Family Caregivers in Paid Leave Legislation, AARP Tells Congress

Portrait of adult daughter and her mom
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En español | AARP wrote to a group of U.S. congressional lawmakers this week urging Congress to include family caregivers in any legislation calling for a national paid leave policy.

“As Congress seeks ways to ensure America’s workforce can meet the demands of our economy, ensuring access to paid family caregiving leave, not just parental leave, is a vital part of the equation,” wrote Bill Sweeney, AARP senior vice president for government affairs.

The lawmakers, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Reps. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) and Stephanie Bice (R-OK), lead a bipartisan congressional working group seeking experts’ suggestions for expanding access to paid leave.

In our letter, AARP noted that while parental leave is important, “it is only one part of the equation.” More Americans than ever are providing care for both children and older loved ones, we wrote, and nearly 75 percent of such “sandwich generation” caregivers work full- or part-time on top of their caregiving duties.

An AARP poll released last May found 1 in 5 Americans is a family caregiver, 40 percent of whom spend more than 20 hours a week on caregiving. A staggering 42 percent said they quit their job or cut back on their hours because of their caregiving responsibilities.

Paid leave programs help keep family caregivers in the workforce while also helping older adults live independently and avoid costly nursing home care, we wrote in our letter.

AARP has long advocated for a national paid family and medical leave policy. We have also successfully pushed for paid leave laws in 16 states, most recently in Minnesota and Maine.

Read our letter and learn more about AARP’s resources for family caregivers.

Natalie Missakian covers federal and state policy and writes AARP’s Fighting for You Every Day blog. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Haven Register and daily newspapers in Ohio. Her work has also appeared in the AARP Bulletin, the Hartford Business Journal and other publications.

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