Adult Foster Care (AFC) helps thousands of families across Massachusetts provide the best possible care at home for loved ones. But the program is facing unprecedented budget cuts, and that has supporters statewide planning a show of support at Beacon Hill in March.
The first annual Adult Foster Care Awareness Day will be held Wednesday, March 8, from 9-2 at Nurse’s Hall at the Statehouse.
Organized by the Massachusetts Council for Adult Foster Care, the gathering will offer an opportunity to talk with local legislators about what AFC provides and what those in-home services mean to more than 10,000 Massachusetts residents in the program.
Funded through MassHealth, AFC supports the live-in caregivers who meet the daily needs of older adults and people with disabilities who can no longer live alone. It provides a tax-free stipend and ongoing training for caregivers. And most importantly, it lets people receive the care they need at home, which is where 90% of older adults prefer to stay as long as possible.
Unfortunately, the statewide budget for AFC programs was slashed by $5.6 million in December, as part of a $98 million package of 9C cuts from Governor Charlie Baker. Some key legislators have indicated some of those cuts could be reversed through a supplemental budget, but it remains unclear how that will play out.
The cuts are doubly unfortunate, when you consider that AFC routinely saves MassHealth money—costing $50 to $85 per day, instead of $125-$250 for nursing home care. The number of nursing facility days covered by MassHealth has dropped by 37% since 2000, in large part because of programs like AFC.
We see the program as a wise and caring investment of state resources.
We are encouraged that House Ways and Means Chair Denise Garlick is sponsoring the Adult Foster Care Awareness Day at the Statehouse. But it’s important that people who believe in this program and care about it stand up and be counted.
The AFC program at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) provides help for more than 250 families across the greater Boston area. We’re proud to participate in Adult Foster Care Awareness Day and we hope to see you there.
If not, please consider calling your local state representative and state senators to let them know you support AFC.
More details about Adult Foster Care Awareness Day will be posted on the Massachusetts Council for Adult Foster Care website as they become available.
Nathan Lamb is Director of Outreach and Community Relations for Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES). Jeanne Leyden is Director of Adult Family Care, a non-profit program at SCES that provides Adult Foster Care across the Greater Boston, North Shore, and Merrimack Valley areas. For more information, visit adultfamilycare.org or call 617-628-2601.