Honoring Washington’s unpaid family caregivers: Governor Inslee proclaims November 2023 as a month of recognition

Contact: Jessica Nelson, DSHS Office of Communications

Jessica.Nelson1@dshs.wa.gov or (360) 628–1043

During November, Washington state recognizes unpaid family and kinship caregivers for their invaluable assistance provided to loved ones, friends and neighbors with chronic illness, disabilities and other special needs. More than 820,000 family caregivers of adults in Washington state provide essential services, estimated to be worth over $16 billion and 770,000,000 hours each year.

Washington is a national leader in providing long-term care services and supports, with programs run by the Department of Social and Health Services’ Aging and Long-Term Support Administration, 13 Area Agencies on Aging, local partners and federally recognized tribes.

The need for family caregivers is increasing, with 42,000 children living with grandparents as the head of household, and many other children living with neither parent. Additionally, more kinship caregivers, such as uncles, aunts, cousins and siblings are stepping in to care for children whose parents cannot or will not care for them.

The Dementia Action Collaborative is increasing awareness and availability of resources such as the Dementia Road Map: A Guide for Family and Care Partners to support over 213,000 family members caring for a person with dementia. The DAC recently updated the Washington State Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias.

Innovative programs such as the Medicaid Transformation Project and the WA Cares Fund provide funding to help unpaid family caregivers take a break, learn new skills and access self-care and wellness resources. The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides eligible older adults with an electronic benefit card worth $80 to access fresh, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables, honey and herbs at participating farmers markets and farm and roadside stands.

Given the expected increases in the state’s older population, workforce challenges and population shifts that will decrease the number of available family caregivers, comprehensive supports for family caregivers are essential.

Therefore, Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed November 2023 as a month to honor and recognize the invaluable contribution of unpaid family and kinship caregivers who provide essential services to friends, neighbors and loved ones with chronic illness, disabilities and other special needs.

As a community, we support and recognize the incredible contributions of unpaid family caregivers who provide essential services to their family members and friends. Let’s ensure that these family caregivers have access to the resources they need to continue their vital work.

- By Cynthia Shipley, DSHS Aging and Long-Term Support Administration