Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would give autism families the support and training they need to provide quality caregiving to their children.
“Millions of American families devote enormous time and attention to care for loved ones with autism and to ensure they have the same opportunities as their peers,” said Senator Collins. “Our bipartisan legislation would support the efforts of these selfless caregivers to improve the wellbeing of children with autism. By providing families with the tools and resources they need to succeed, we can ensure that all children have the ability to reach their full potential and lead rich, fulfilling lives.”
“Throughout my entire career, I have fought to ensure autistic individuals have the resources to live full and productive lives,” said Senator Menendez. “I’m proud to lead this bipartisan bill that will deliver real results for children living with autism, their families, and caregivers. This is about dignity and compassion. And most of all, it’s about recognizing that we need to do more to help everyone reach their highest potential by providing the resources needed support that goal.”
“We are grateful to Senators Menendez and Collins for recognizing this important need and introducing the Autism Family Caregivers Act,” said Rachel Gonzales-Hanson, Interim President and CEO of the National Association of Community Health Centers. “Health Centers work every day to provide high-quality patient-centered care to nearly 29 million patients. This bill will provide health centers with resources to develop caregiver skills training programs to benefit young children and their families.”
“It is critical that family caregivers have the support they need to manage every day routines and activities that improve the health and well-being of children with autism and other developmental delays. The Autism Family Caregivers Act of 2022 will work to ensure that families can access these vital services and caregivers can receive the evidence-based training that will help them to best support the children in their care. The American Academy of Pediatrics is grateful to Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) for introducing this important legislation and calls on Congress to swiftly advance it,” said AAP President Moira Szilagyi, MD, PhD, FAAP.
“The Autism Society of America commends Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Susan Collins (R-ME) for introducing the bipartisan Autism Caregivers Act in the Senate this week. This bill provides access to caregiver skills training for family members who care for children with Autism or other developmental disabilities,” said Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America. “The Autism Society stands ready to move this bill forward in this Congress.”
The Autism Family Caregivers Act would establish a five-year caregiver skills pilot program to award grants to nonprofits, community health centers or hospitals to provide skills training to family caregivers of children with autism. The training will teach family caregivers how to use every day routines and home activities to improve the mental and physical well-being of such children and their caregivers. Caregivers will be trained to address communication skills, daily living skills, social engagement and behavior management. The grants will provide for 25 pilot programs in at least 15 states.
The Autism Family Caregivers Act is supported by the National Association of Community Health Centers, American Academy of Pediatrics, Autism Society, The Arc, and Autism Speaks.
Representatives Grace Meng (D-NY-06) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) are the lead sponsors of the bill in the House of Representatives.