‘Caregiver Support Act’ Approved by Legislature
OKLAHOMA CITY (19 April 2017) – A measure intended to “help us better care for our loved ones” has passed the Legislature and is headed to the Governor’s desk.
House Bill 1357, the “Oklahoma Caregiver Support Act,” was endorsed 78-6 by the House of Representatives and 39-0 by the Senate.
More than half a million Oklahomans spend an average of 21 hours each week “taking care of a mother or father, husband or wife, sister or brother, son or daughter, a friend or someone else,” said Rep. Regina Goodwin, principal author of HB 1357.
“There are resources, information, counseling, training, and even some money – $360 vouchers for those who qualify – to help ease the load of caregivers who juggle schedules, work and finances to care for loved ones,” the Tulsa Democrat said.
HB 1357 would direct the Aging Services Division of the state Department of Human Services to “work with caregiver community groups across the state in a cost-neutral manner, using existing resources, to:
- support expansion of the number of locations in which services are provided to caregivers “via workshops and sites closer to home,” Goodwin said;
- ensure that the geographic locations of these sites include low-, mid- and high-economic-income areas “in order to provide greater accessibility” to caregivers;
- provide that the locations selected include schools, city and county facilities “in which no usage fee shall be charged.”
The bill also would instruct the DHS to support awareness of information about services available to caregivers; assistance to caregivers in gaining access to available services; individual counseling, support groups and caregiver training; and respite care to provide caregivers with temporary relief from their responsibilities.
Goodwin said her bill had “broad support” from the DHS, the Caregivers Coalition, the AARP and Morton Health Clinic, among others.
The Senate sponsor of HB 1357 was Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie.
MIKE W. RAY
Media Director, Democratic Caucus
Oklahoma House of Representatives
(405) 962-7819 office
(405) 245-4411 mobile