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Proposed State Legislation Aims to Support Caregiving Youth

Proposed State Legislation Aims to Support Caregiving Youth

Government Affairs & Advocacy

Florida Senator Lori Berman (D-Boynton Beach) has introduced legislation to be considered during the upcoming Florida legislative Session, which convenes on January 9, 2024. The bill is designed to provide support to caregiving youth across the state in light of the ongoing health care workforce shortage.

SB 152 defines "caregiving youth" as individuals under 18 years of age who take on varying degrees of responsibility for caring for a household member dealing with chronic physical or mental illnesses, disabilities, aging-related frailty, substance abuse, or similar conditions. These caregiving youth provide invaluable support, including medical care, household management, translation services, emotional support, and even parenting younger siblings.

At the heart of this legislation is the creation of the Florida Caregiving Youth Task Force, to be housed within the Department of Health (DOH). This task force will study the needs of caregiving youth who assist aging or disabled adults. The DOH will provide administrative and technical support to this task force, enabling it to carry out its mission effectively.

The proposed bill outlines a diverse membership for the task force, including representatives from various state agencies, advocacy organizations, and members of the public. This multidisciplinary approach aims to ensure a comprehensive examination of caregiving youth's needs and the development of effective solutions.

The task force's duties encompass a wide range of responsibilities. These include developing criteria for identifying caregiving youth within school districts, identifying support services for these youth, examining available resources and funding, and proposing innovative ways to support caregiving youth in their pursuit of education and skills training while simultaneously caring for household members.

State agencies will be required to cooperate with the task force, offering necessary support staff and materials. The task force, in turn, will submit a final report of its findings and recommendations to various entities, including the Governor, Legislature, and the State Surgeon General, by January 1, 2025.

It's important to note that the provisions of this legislation are set to expire on June 30, 2025. Additionally, the bill allows caregiving youth pursuing education or training in health-related fields of study to be exempt from paying tuition and fees at designated educational institutions.

This proposed legislation underscores the importance of recognizing and supporting caregiving youth in Florida. By establishing a task force, providing training for school personnel, and offering tuition and fee exemptions, it aims to alleviate the unique challenges faced by these young caregivers.

SB 152 is expected to be a topic of discussion during HCAF's annual Home Care Day at the Capitol (details TBA). This event provides an opportunity for industry professionals to advocate for legislative proposals that directly impact the home care provider community. Stay tuned for updates as SB 152 progresses through the Florida legislative process with the real-time state and federal legislative tracker tool.

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