This summer, Utah lawmakers worked to make life easier for families caring for loved ones with disabilities. As many families struggle to find help outside their own relatives, parents have become the main caregivers. This has created stress on their marriages and made them feel left out of their communities.
Lately, families have turned to the Division of Services for People with Disabilities (DPSD) for help. However, the DPSD’s long waitlist leaves families without the needed support. In 2022, one-in-four women and one-in-six men in Utah are caregivers and many of them work unpaid.
Representative Ray Ward (R-Bountiful) sponsored HB242 to expand the DPSD and help more families. The bill got unanimous votes but did not receive funding from the state budget. As a result, families have faced ongoing challenges, with some thinking about placing their loved ones in state facilities.
To help caregivers, a bill called SB106: Caregiver Compensation Amendments was introduced. It provides funding to pay caregivers. This hourly pay supports parents and guardians, even if they are on the DPSD waitlist. It also reduces the need for public caregiving resources.
There still is not a firm budget commitment to remove families from the DPSD waitlist. Thus, community support is still important. A simple hello or reaching out to caregivers helps them feel included. Also, contacting your local and state legislators can help the cause.
How You Can Support Caregivers
Public support and legislative action play are still important, along with:
- Advocating for increased caregiver funding
- Expanding caregiver services
- Fostering community connections for caregivers
On their website, The Division for Services for People with Disabilities urges those wanting to advocate for increasing caregiver funding to the organizations below:
- Utah Parent Center (UPC)
- Utah Developmental Disabilities Council (UDDC)
- Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities (LCPD)
- Utah State University Center for Persons with Disabilities (CPD)