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The USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology received $3 million from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to support family caregivers in maintaining financial stability and workplace security.

Funding will be used to develop and curate a variety of resources and tools, including a website offering comprehensive information on financial and workplace security tailored to caregivers’ diverse needs. To provide key audiences with the best information, the project will foster partnerships among several leading organizations as well as national, state, and local aging networks.

“This award is a recognition of the critical role caregivers play in our society and the need to support them effectively,” said Professor Kathleen Wilber, Mary Pickford Foundation Chair in Gerontology at the Leonard Davis School. “We will expand our research and collaboration efforts to create a more supportive environment for caregivers.”

According to U.S. government data, approximately 53 million people serve as family caregivers, including 5.5 million caring for service members and veterans. Family caregiving can negatively impact caregivers’ health, emotional well-being, and financial stability, with women, who make up nearly two-thirds of caregivers, being particularly affected. AARP estimates that family caregivers provide about 36 billion hours of unpaid care, valued at over $600 billion a year.

Areas of Focus

The project will leverage technology innovations and cover critical topics such as long-term services, financial planning, advance directives, end-of-life care, home modifications, and workplace benefits. Special focus will be given to caregivers of older adults with chronic illnesses or disabilities, grandparents raising grandchildren, and those from underserved communities, including tribal entities. Employers are another key audience.

“We are particularly interested in understanding how employers can create more accommodating work environments for caregivers,” said Wilber, who is leading the project. “Partnerships with workplace settings will be crucial to improving support for caregivers balancing professional duties and caregiving responsibilities.”

Collaboration and Dissemination

From the USC Leonard Davis School, Research Associate Professor and USC Family Caregiver Support Center Director Donna Benton is overseeing efforts to ensure that diversity, equity, inclusion, and access are central to all product development and dissemination efforts. Assistant Professor Francesca Falzarano is identifying and implementing relevant technology innovations, while Associate Professor Susan Enguídanos heads the Work Group on End-of-Life/Intensive Caregiving.

To strengthen their ability to support caregivers, the team will collaborate with the aging network, including state units on aging and area agencies on aging. A partnership with the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging will ensure that findings are widely disseminated and applied in various settings.

Leonard Davis School researchers make up on one of five teams in the newly formed National Caregiver Support Collaborative, part of the ACL’s strategy to recognize and support family, kinship, and tribal caregivers. This initiative also aligns with President Biden’s 2023 executive order to enhance access to affordable, high-quality care and support for care workers and family caregivers.

“This initiative represents a significant step towards improving the lives of caregivers and those they care for by ensuring they have the support needed to balance work and caregiving responsibilities effectively,” said Wilber.

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