NJ Human Services Recognizes Family Caregivers During National Family Caregiving Month

In NJ, Over A Million Family Caregivers Provide Unpaid Care to Loved Ones Who Are Elderly, Disabled or Chronically Ill

November 30, 2022

(TRENTON) – As National Family Caregiving Month comes to an end, Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman today recognized family caregivers in New Jersey for the vital service they provide in caring for loved ones who are elderly, disabled or chronically ill, and highlighted supports and services available from the Department to support them.

Family caregivers assist in preventing and delaying the need for costly institutional care for aging individuals as well as people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or mental health issues. There are roughly 53 million family and informal caregivers in the United States, with more than one million in New Jersey.

“Today, we recognize family caregivers who have taken on the great responsibility of caring for a loved one who needs it. While a labor of love for many, this work can take a toll emotionally, physically and financially on those who provide day-to-day care. Human Services has programs and services available to family caregivers that can help ease some of the pressure. I encourage family caregivers in need of support to visit our Division of Aging Services website, or contact their local Area Agency on Aging for more information about programs and services available to them and the people that they care for,” said Commissioner Adelman.

Celebrated every November, National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM) is a time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country. It offers an opportunity to raise awareness of caregiving issues, educate communities, and increase support for caregivers.

“Caring for an elderly parent or a loved one with a disability can be rewarding but overwhelming. We are grateful for family caregivers who dedicate time and effort—often at their own expense—to care for loved ones. The day-to-day care that they provide allows their loved ones to remain in their homes and their communities, and they deserve not only our gratitude, but our support,” said Deputy Commissioner for Aging and Disability Services Kaylee McGuire.

The Murphy Administration is committed to supporting caregivers and improving programs that can help. In 2018, Acting Governor Sheila Oliver signed a law creating the New Jersey Caregiver Task Force to evaluate support services that are available to caregivers, and provide recommendations for the improvement and expansion of such services.

The Task Force was comprised largely of representatives from non-profits organizations and relevant stakeholders working to gather information and present recommendations to the Governor and Legislature. The Task Force surveyed New Jersey family caregivers, held family caregiver testimonial sessions and recovered current state data and resources to compile its final report, which is now public.

“Through surveys and hearings, the Task Force heard how caregivers experience feelings of isolation and are often unaware of the supports available to them. Caregiving work can be consuming, and without proper support, can be detrimental to the caregiver’s health and well-being,” said Nancy Fitterer, President and CEO of the NJ Home and Hospice Association and Chair of the New Jersey Caregiver Task Force. “The Task Force’s report provides robust recommendations to strengthen supports and services available to caregivers across the state.”

“At the Division of Developmental Disabilities, we prioritize a person- and family-centered approach to caregiving that allows individuals in need of care to remain in their homes and communities. But we understand this is demanding work. Caregivers of adult individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in need of support can call our new MOM2MOM NJ Adult help line. We also have options for uncompensated caregivers to get paid through the division’s Self-Directed Services/Self-Direction program,” said Assistant Commissioner Jonathan Seifried, who leads the Division of Developmental Disabilities. 

“Family caregivers play a critical role in the lives of loved ones who require assistance and provide an essential service that often amounts to a part-time job. The Division of Aging Services has programs available to help relieve some of the stress that comes with this responsibility. With over a million caregivers in the state, we hope more people will take advantage of these programs and share this information,” said Division of Aging Services Director Louise Rush, who served as the Department of Human Services’ designee on the New Jersey Caregiver Task Force.

The Department of Human Services provides supports to caregivers, including:

  • The Stress-Busting Program for Family Caregivers is a 9-week program designed to improve the quality of life for family caregivers who provide care for persons with Alzheimer's disease, other related dementias, and chronic illnesses. This program helps caregivers manage their stress and cope better with their lives.
  • Aging & Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) in every New Jersey county to help older adults, individuals with disabilities and their caregivers find out about and access important federal, state, and local long-term services and supports. Call your ADRC toll-free at 1-877-222-3737.
  • Statewide Respite Care Program provides relief for unpaid caregivers by ensuring their loved ones are cared for while the caregiver takes personal time.
  • Managed Long Term Services and Supports (MLTSS) is a New Jersey Medicaid program that helps older adults and individuals with disabilities live at home for as long as possible with an array of important services, including respite care.
  • Jersey Assistance for Community Caregiving (JACC) is similar to MLTSS but for individuals with incomes or assets above Medicaid eligibility levels. JACC services are designed to supplement the assistance given by the individual’s existing network of family caregivers.
  • Alzheimer’s Adult Day Services Program (AADSP) gives a break to unpaid caregivers who are caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder, such as dementia, by subsidizing adult day care at participating day centers.
  • Personal Care Assistant Services are non-emergent, ongoing health-related tasks performed by qualified staff in an eligible NJ FamilyCare (Medicaid) member’s home.
  • The Personal Assistance Services Program (PASP) is a personal care assistance program for individuals with permanent physical disabilities who are capable of directing their own services.

For additional information and support, contact:

  • Well Spouse Association: support and social opportunities for the "well" spouse, 1-800-838-0879.
  • Family Caregiver Alliance: caregiver education, support, policy, and advocacy, 1-800-445-8106.
  • Care2Caregivers: peer support hotline through COPSA at Rutgers, 1-800-424-2494
  • MOM2MOM NJ Adult help line: In partnership with Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care, help and support is available to caregivers of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities at 1-833-NJ-ADULT (1-833-652-3858) daily from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Next Step in Care: online guides for caregivers on caregiving topics in English, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese.

Helping our paid workforce grow and strengthening workers’ skills can assist in offsetting the demands placed on unpaid caregivers. The State has invested millions in increased wages for workers who care for some of New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents. The FY2023 state budget, signed into law by Governor Murphy in June, includes over $200 million for wage increases for direct support professionals, home health aides also known as personal care assistants, child care workers, nursing home workers, private duty nurses, community-based mental health and substance use disorder providers, and homeless shelter staff. 

The Department extends appreciation to all family caregivers for their continued dedication to the care of their loved ones, and encourages all caregivers, including the paid workforce, to remember that their own needs are also important, and that there are resources and supports available.