The New Year rang in a new commitment to family caregivers in New Jersey. As a result of the hard work of AARP staff and volunteers, coalition partners and the leadership of Assemblywomen Lampitt, Mosquera, and Vainieri Huttle as well as Senators Vitale and Greenstein and the Governor, a bill to create a New Jersey Caregiver Task Force (A3514/S959) was signed into law December 28, 2018. Soon after, a bill to significantly expand our state’s Paid Family Leave Insurance Program (A3975/S2528) passed the Legislature under the leadership of Senate President Sweeney and Senators Diegnan and Ruiz and Assemblywomen Quijano, Downey and Assemblyman Giblin on January 31, 2019 – and was signed into law by Governor Murphy on February 19, 2019.
Family caregivers are the backbone of our care system, providing over $13 billion in unpaid care that helps keep their loved ones at home where they want to be. Withe New Jersey's 65+ population expected to double by 2050, and the number of available family caregivers declining, it is a critical time to build support for family caregivers.
The Caregiver Task Force is charged with evaluating the current services and supports available to family caregivers and making recommendations on expanding and improving those services. AARP NJ will have a seat on the 11-member task force, which will include three individuals who are caregivers themselves.
Ten years ago, New Jersey became the second state in the country to pass a paid family leave insurance program. The expansion of New Jersey's Family Leave Act will increase the amount of time a caregiver can take of work to care for a loved one from 6 weeks to 12 weeks; it will lift the wage replacement cap from $650 a week to $860 a week, put job protections in place for people working at businesses with 30 or more employees, expand the definition of family to include adult children, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, parents-in-law, and chosen family, and allocate $1.2 million in funding for outreach and education so Garden State employees can be made aware of this great program.
Thank you to the AARP members and volunteers who have helped in passing these two critical pieces of legislation. Check out AARP New Jersey's Caregiver Connection site for more information about these laws and other resources for caregivers in the Garden State.
You can also visit the AARP Caregiving Resource Center for information, tips, and tools or contact the resource center by phone at 1-877-333-5885. The support line is also available in Spanish, at 1-888-971-2013.