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Wisconsin Extension Specialist Honored for Work in Family Caregiving

Jennifer Martin, CSREES Staff, (202) 720-8188
December 7, 2006

The National Alliance for Caregiving honored the Wisconsin Alliance for Family Caregiving for its outstanding support to family caregivers who assist older adults. The alliance, led by University of Wisconsin Extension Specialist Mary Brintnall Peterson, is a network of 75 organizations in Wisconsin that support caregivers.

“This clearly demonstrates the exemplary role Cooperative Extension can play to build strategic partnerships serving American’s families,” said Caroline Crocoll, national program leader for family science and human development at USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES), CSREES is the federal partner in the Cooperative Extension System.

The Wisconsin Alliance for Family Caregiving educates professionals who work directly with family caregivers. It consists of a statewide network of advanced instructors who train class leaders in four caregiving curricula: Caregiving Near Life's End, Caregiving Relationships for People Who Care for Adults, Elder Care and Work: Finding the Balance and Powerful Tools for Caregivers. Class leaders then conduct classes for family caregivers throughout the state. The alliance also organizes a biennial Family Caregiver Institute, offers caregiving resources on its Web site, supports local caregiving coalitions and creates networking opportunities.

The alliance has trained more than 400 class leaders since 2000. Those class leaders have, in turn, reached more than 2,000 Wisconsin family caregivers through workshops, consultations, support groups and other activities. At least 63 percent of Wisconsin counties currently have trained class leaders in at least two of the four curricula.

The University of Wisconsin-Extension and AARP Wisconsin provided initial leadership to a 12-person steering committee. UW-Extension developed and maintains the Web site, and AARP provides financial support.

For more information, visit the Alliance’s Web site at http://www.uwex.edu/ces/flp/caregiving/ or e-mail. flp@uwex.edu.

Family caregiving is the underpinning of the country’s healthcare system, with the value to society estimated at $306 billion per year – more than the value of home care and nursing care combined. Experts anticipate that family caregiving will continue to grow in the decades ahead. Currently, there are more than 44.4 million family caregivers in the United States. Nearly 60 percent of caregivers work and nearly 40 percent have children under the age of 18. Managing the competing priorities of work and family, in addition to the caregiving responsibility, is stressful, costly and draining, and can exact a heavy toll, resulting in caregiver stress, burnout and other health problems.

Nearly 170 non-profit agencies competed for the national 2006 Family Caregiving Awards. Non-profit honorees were awarded $25,000 to continue and enhance their support for caregivers. Applicants demonstrated how they are innovative, effective, replicable, research-based and responsive to diverse populations. A panel of expert judges selected six applicants. The National Alliance for Caregiving is a Washington, DC,-based coalition of national organizations, with support from MetLife Foundation. For more information, visit www.caregiving.org.

CSREES advances knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities by supporting research, education, and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations. For more information, visit http://www.csrees.usda.gov.

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