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WI Family Care: A “Win-Win”

PHOTO: Helen Marks Dicks (courtesy AARP)
PHOTO: Helen Marks Dicks (courtesy AARP)
January 17, 2013

MADISON, Wis. - Fifty-seven of Wisconsin's 72 counties participate in the state's Family Care program, and eight more counties are ready to adopt the program as soon as state funds are made available. That's something AARP-Wisconsin would like to see happen, according to the group's state advocacy director, Helen Marks Dicks. She says the program actually saves taxpayers a lot of money.

"Family Care is a program run by the state of Wisconsin to provide long-term care for low-income people in their home, rather than having them go into an institution. It primarily covers the elderly and people with disabilities."

Dicks is hoping Gov. Scott Walker will include money to add eight more counties to the program in his new biennial budget.

One of the reasons the program works so well is that it's customized for each individual's needs, Dicks explains.

"People are very, very diverse in what their real needs are, whether it's help with shopping, whether it's help with bathing, whether it's financial management, whether it's medical care or transportation. It covers a whole range of services and it gets tailored to the individual and what the individual needs."

Dicks hopes the governor will see the value of expanding the popular and cost-effective program to more counties, because it works so well for seniors and people with disabilities, and does it in a very cost-effective way.

Dicks says the Legislative Audit Bureau did a cost study on Family Care.

"It's one of those wonderful win-win situations, in that it is actually significantly cheaper to care for a person in their home, and people prefer to age in their home or their community, with their friends and churches and the health-care providers they've been using over time."

There is strong bipartisan support for expanding the program, Dicks adds, because it saves tens of thousands of dollars per participant by keeping them in their home and out of expensive institutional care.

The eight counties ready to add the program are Brown, Kewaunee, Door, Oconto, Marinette, Shawano, Menominee and Rock.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI