Family caregivers across Wisconsin are hopeful that relief is on the way following an announcement by Governor Evers to establish a statewide Task Force on Caregiving.
The Task Force will recognize the direct care workforce crisis and the extraordinary contributions and stress placed on Wisconsin families who provide the majority of care for their loved ones with disabilities and older adults.
Listen to a Wisconsin Public Radio interview with The Arc Wisconsin’s Lisa Pugh discussing the Task Force.
“We know that families are stressed,” says Lisa Pugh, Executive Director of The Arc Wisconsin and a family caregiver. “They cannot find direct care workers, they cannot find respite care, they rarely get a break. This Task Force acknowledges this as a crisis and outlines next steps to find solutions. We are hopeful.”
Last year The Arc released results of a national family survey assessing caregiver issues. Similar to national results, 97% of responding families from Wisconsin reported difficulties finding direct care workers and 98% said they had trouble finding respite. 98% reported some level of stress with more than half indicating they are very or extremely stressed. In Wisconsin 60% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (of a total of 54,202) live with their family.
The Governor’s Executive Order outlines key areas the Task Force will address, including among other things (read the EO here.)
- Strategies to attract and retain a strong direct care workforce
- Supports for families providing care
- The need for a registry of home care providers and services that help match people to workers who can help them
- Attention to wages and health benefits for workers to strengthen the workforce.
“These are steps that will help family caregivers,” says Pugh. “A quarter of family caregivers for people with disabilities across the state are over age 60. These families are worried about what happens when they are no longer here.”
 Anderson, L., Hewitt, A., Pettingell, S., Lulinski, A, Taylor, M., & Reagan, J. (2018) Family and Individual Needs for Disability Supports (v.2) Community Report 2017. Minnesota: Research and Training Center on Community Living, Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota; The Arc of the United States.
 Source: Braddock et al., Coleman Institute and Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado, 2017. http://stateofthestates.org
*Photos courtesy Jeremy Gundlach, BPDD.