NH LEND Trainees Go to Washington

April 16, 2016

NH Trainees in Washington, DC

NH LEND Trainees in front of Capitol Building

From April 10-13, 2016 NH LEND trainees from NH and Maine traveled to Washington, DC, to participate in the Disability Policy Seminar (DPS) where they received intensive advocacy training and met with their elected officials and staff on Capitol Hill. This annual trip is the culmination of a semester-long project where LEND trainees work with faculty to complete a policy analysis on a current legislative issue and develop a policy brief to share with Congressional delegates and staffers about the importance of the legislation for people with disabilities.

This year's issue was Reauthorization of the Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act. The Lifespan Respite Care Act (PL 114-38) provides critical support for families caring for loved ones at home. Family caregivers in the United States provide an estimated $470 billion worth of uncompensated care--a figure that exceeds the total Medicaid budget for 2013.1 According to the National Respite Coalition, access to respite care helps protect caregiver health, strengthens families, keeps marriages intact, and prevents the need for expensive institutional long-term care. Reauthorization of the Lifespan Respite Care Act is essential to the well-being of individuals in need of long-term care and their families affected by long-term health care needs.

In the weeks prior to the trip, LEND trainees spoke with Kim Musheno, AUCD's Director of Legislative Affairs, to learn more about the issue and the legislation that they were promoting. Kim was involved in drafting the initial piece of legislation.

Twenty-two trainees (18 from UNH and 5 from UMaine) travelled with two faculty members to the Seminar. On Sunday, the trainees attended the AUCD Trainee Summit where they met with LEND program trainees from across the country, AUCD leaders, and Hill staffers to prepare for the conference. View the AUCD’s photos from the event  >

NH LEND Trainees at Disability Policy Seminar
NH LEND Trainees at Disability Policy Seminar

The following two days were spent at the Disability Policy Seminar, which brings together advocates from a variety of national disability organizations. Learn more and view some of the presentations. Finally, on Wednesday, trainees met with all of the members of the New Hampshire and Maine congressional delegation on Capitol Hill.

“NH LEND trainees were welcomed by the NH and Maine delegations. Senators and Representatives received packets of information related to the Reauthorization of PL 114-38, and heard powerful stories from trainees about their personal experiences finding respite care,” explains Betsy Humphreys, NH LEND Director. “As a result of this trip, Congressional delegates in both NH and Maine are aware of the respite care needs of NH and Maine families, and NH LEND trainees better understand how to participate in federal advocacy.”

1 NAC Task Force, Legislative Alert January 2016 from National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP Public Policy Institute, Caregiving in the US, 2015