Collins unveils bipartisan Autism Family Caregivers Act

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) recently introduced the bipartisan Autism Family Caregivers Act of 2022, which would provide skills training to family caregivers of children with autism.

“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,” Sen. Collins said on Tuesday. “Our bipartisan legislation would support the efforts of these selfless caregivers to improve the well-being of children with autism.”

Sen. Collins on May 12 signed on as the lead original cosponsor with bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) of S. 4198, which is companion legislation to the same-named H.R. 6783, sponsored in February by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) and 20 original cosponsors, including U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Don Bacon (R-NE).

If enacted, the measure would establish a five-year caregiver skills pilot program to award grants to nonprofits, community health centers or hospitals, which would then provide skills training to family caregivers of autistic children, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Collins’ staff, which notes that the grants would fund 25 pilot programs in at least 15 states.

The training would teach family caregivers how to use everyday routines and home activities to improve the mental and physical well-being for themselves and their children, as well as how to address communications skills, daily living skills, social engagement, and behavior management, the summary says.

“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,” said Sen. Collins. 

The National Association of Community Health Centers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Autism Society of America, The Arc, and Autism Speaks endorsed the measure.