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Delaware Senate Democrats

Sen. Spiros Mantzavinos Introduces Legislation to Support Aging Seniors and Family Caregivers

May 20, 2021


DOVER – With the rapid growth of Delaware’s senior population presenting new challenges for families across the state, Sen. Spiros Mantzavinos and Rep. Krista Griffith on Wednesday sponsored two measures that would help provide financial relief to family caregivers and produce new policies that address the issues they face every day.

“As someone who is caring for an elderly parent, I know first-hand about the stress that comes with it plus how difficult and expensive it can be to juggle their household bills and the financial burden that comes with caring for an aging family member, regardless of whether they live alone, with a family member or in a long-term care facility,” said Mantzavinos, D-Elsmere

“I also know we can do more to support the desire of most seniors to stay in their own homes and their own communities for as long as they can,” he said. “My hope is these measures will help make it a little easier for our neighbors while also giving them some assurance that we are committed to promoting the health and well-being of both our senior citizens, the families who love them, and their caregivers.”

Senate Bill 143 would create a family caregiver tax credit in Delaware worth up to $2,000 a year per household that could be applied toward the cost of home improvements required for the care of a family member, the purchase or lease of equipment needed to carry out daily living activities, or support services such as employing a home health aide, specialized transportation or day programs for seniors.

If signed into law, the nonrefundable tax credit would be available to qualifying family caregivers who earn less than $150,000, starting with their next state tax filing.

The legislation fulfills a key recommendation from the 2015 Caregiver Support Blueprint for Delaware, the final report issued by the Family Caregiving Task Force. Among other findings, the task force found that nearly half of all Delawareans age 35 or older were currently or had previously provided unpaid care to an adult loved one who was ill, frail, elderly or had a physical or mental disability. Additionally, the task force predicted a caregiving gap caused by Delaware’s growing proportion of citizens aged 60 and older.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 44 introduced and passed unanimously by the Senate on Wednesday, would work hand-in-hand with SB 143 and set the stage for additional policy solutions aimed at helping seniors stay in their homes longer.

The measure would create a 16-member Aging-In-Place Working Group made up of legislators, representatives from a number of senior-focused organizations and members of the public that would be charged with developing a plan to improve the infrastructure of home- and community-based services throughout Delaware. The working group is directed to issue its final report by March 30, 2022.

Rep. Griffith, who is the lead House sponsor on both measures, has a strong professional tie to this issue, having served as head of the Department of Justice’s Senior Protection Initiative under the late Attorney General Beau Biden.

“It’s heartbreaking when an older person needs to move from the home they created because of issues related to aging. No matter how hard we have tried over the years to assist our seniors, this continues to be a struggle for so many families,” said Rep. Griffith, D-Fairfax. “Twenty years ago, I had to make the difficult decision to have my mom reside in a nursing facility. We were grateful for the care she received but to this day I wish I could have had better options for her to reside in her home. These two bills seek to do just that, and I am proud to sponsor them in the House.”

SCR 44 now heads to the House for consideration. SB 143 has been assigned to the Senate Health & Social Services Committee.