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Florida Senator Lori Berman Proposes Innovative Legislation to Address the Health Care Workforce Shortage

Florida Senator Lori Berman Proposes Innovative Legislation to Address the Health Care Workforce Shortage

Government Affairs & Advocacy

In a move to combat the growing health care workforce shortage, Senator Lori Berman (D-Boynton Beach) introduced SB 152 on October 9, 2023. This legislation, if passed, will pave the way for enhanced support systems aimed at children and adolescents who find themselves in caregiving roles for family members requiring assistance.

At the core of this groundbreaking legislation is the establishment of the Florida Caregiving Youth Task Force, a crucial initiative featuring the following key components:

  • Defining Caregiving Youth: Senator Berman's bill presents a clear and comprehensive definition of "caregiving youth" as individuals under the age of 18, who bear varying levels of responsibility for a household member in need. These needs encompass a broad range of challenges, from chronic physical or mental illnesses to disabilities, frailty associated with aging, substance abuse, and other similar conditions. The responsibilities of caregiving youth encompass direct medical and personal care, household management, language translation in medical settings, emotional support, and even parenting their younger siblings.
  • Task Force Formation: The proposed legislation outlines the creation of the Florida Caregiving Youth Task Force within the Department of Health (DOH). This task force's primary mission is to conduct an in-depth study and present recommendations for essential support systems aimed at assisting caregiving youth in providing care to aging or disabled adults.
  • Key Responsibilities: The task force will be entrusted with several vital responsibilities, including formulating evidence-based criteria for identifying caregiving youth, conducting a comprehensive study of support services tailored to at-risk populations in secondary schools, and identifying resources to bolster caregiving youth.
  • Reporting Back: To ensure transparency and accountability, the task force is mandated to submit a comprehensive final report to various stakeholders. These stakeholders include the Governor and legislative leaders, and the report is expected to be delivered by January 1, 2025. However, it's important to note that the task force will have an expiration date of June 30, 2025.

Recognizing the critical need for resources and support systems for caregiving youth, SB 152 takes several crucial steps, including:

  • Department of Education's Role: The legislation obligates the Department of Education (DOE) to compile and maintain an extensive list of benefits and resources accessible to caregiving youth within the state.
  • School-Based Support: Another pivotal provision calls for every middle and high school to designate a caregiving youth liaison. The primary responsibility of this liaison is to connect caregiving youth with available support and services, ensuring they receive the necessary assistance.
  • Financial Relief: The bill also provides financial relief to caregiving youth by exempting them from certain tuition and fee payments when they choose to pursue education or training in a health-related field.
  • Enhancing Education: With a strong emphasis on the education sector, SB 152 directs the DOE to establish an evidence-based training program for school personnel. This training equips them to identify caregiving youth, comprehend the unique challenges these young caregivers face, and offer the necessary academic support.
  • Specialized Training Facilitators: To ensure the program's effectiveness, the DOE is expected to collaborate with a regional or national authority specializing in caregiving youth to facilitate the training.
  • Comprehensive Training: The training program covers various aspects, including understanding caregiving youth, recognizing their needs, and effectively connecting them to available resources.
  • Information Dissemination: Finally, the bill calls for each school district to inform trained personnel about the resources and services accessible to caregiving youth, ensuring that those in need can access the help they deserve.

The proposed legislation is scheduled for consideration during the forthcoming 2024 Florida Legislative Session, which will commence on January 9, 2024.

HCAF members can informed about state and federal legislation impacting the home care provider community by accessing the legislative tracker, which is updated in real time year-round.

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