In April, President Biden announced the most comprehensive set of executive actions any president has ever taken to improve care for hard-working families while supporting care workers and family caregivers. The Executive Order on Increasing Access to High-Quality Care and Supporting Caregivers (EO) includes more than 50 directives to nearly every cabinet-level agency to expand access to affordable, high-quality care, and provide support for care workers and family caregivers. At least 53 million Americans serve as family caregivers—including over 5 million caring for service members or veterans—and many face challenges due to lack of support, training, and opportunities for rest.
The Administration is committed to getting care workers and family caregivers, including those in military and veteran households, the resources and respect they deserve. Through the First Lady’s Joining Forces initiative, the Administration has partnered with more than 50 public and private sector organizations to launch the “Hidden Helpers” Coalition to serve the 2.3 million military and veteran children in caregiving homes. Joining Forces continues to collaborate to ensure that military and veteran families and caregivers are addressed as a key population across the Administration’s efforts, including implementation of the recent executive orders.
The EO advances the Administration’s continuing commitment to honor military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors through mandates to the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA). This includes directing DOD to enhance recruitment and retention of the Department’s child development program workers and to improve the affordability of child care for service members by September 2023. This directive is in addition to ongoing efforts as part of the Fourteenth Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation to assess how child care costs impact the ability of the military to attract and retain its workforce.
Separately, directives to VA focused on improving access to home-based care for veterans and supporting family caregivers. The EO directs the VA Secretary to:
- develop and implement a pilot program to offer psychotherapy via video telehealth to family caregivers within the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers to improve their access to mental health services.
- consider issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking by the end of this fiscal year that would make any appropriate modifications to eligibility criteria for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, which provides services and benefits, including a monthly stipend, for eligible caregivers of veterans who sustained a serious injury or illness in the line of duty.
- consider expanding the existing Veteran Directed Care Program — which provides veterans who need help with daily living with a budget to spend on home- and community-based services including personal care services — to all Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers by the end of Fiscal Year 2024.
- consider designing and evaluating a pilot program in no fewer than five veteran sites or in five States for a new Co-Employer Option for delivering veteran home health services.
- consider expanding the Home-Based Primary Care program by adding 75 new interdisciplinary teams to provide care to veterans in their homes.
Recognizing that military and veteran families are American working families, the EO also includes items that will impact the military-connected community through channels other than VA and DOD. These include directing the Health and Human Services Secretary to:
- implement strategies to expand mental health support for the care workforce, including early childhood providers supported through the Child Care and Development Fund and Head Start.
- work with the Secretaries of Labor and Education to encourage recipients of Federal financial assistance to expand opportunities for early childhood educators and long-term care professionals through community college programming, career and technical education, Registered Apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeships leading to Registered Apprenticeship, and other job training and professional development.
- work with the Secretary of Labor and Education to make available innovative funding opportunities, develop and evaluate demonstration projects for care training and educational attainment, and provide technical assistance to State, local, and Tribal partners to improve job quality for care occupations.
The EO also instructs the Secretary of Labor to create and publish in multiple languages materials on compliance assistance and best practices — such as sample employment agreements for domestic child care and long-term care workers and their employers — to promote fair workplaces and ensure the parties know their rights and responsibilities.