Legislation to establish a federal strategy to address the needs of family caregivers — including those supporting people with developmental disabilities — is gaining steam.

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bill known as the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage, or RAISE Family Caregivers Act late last month. The legislation now goes before the House of Representatives.

The measure would direct the secretary of health and human services to create and implement a national plan to “recognize and support family caregivers” that incorporates recommended steps that can be undertaken at the federal, state and local level.

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In addition, the bill calls for the secretary to convene a family caregiving advisory council comprised of federal officials and stakeholders in the community to weigh in on what the government can do to assist an estimated 40 million family caregivers nationally.

Sponsored by lawmakers from both parties, the caregivers act has support from Autism Speaks, the Autism Society, Easterseals, United Cerebral Palsy, The Arc and other disability groups.

“By passing the bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act in the Senate, we have taken an important step forward to formally recognize and support our family caregivers across America,” said Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who spearheaded the legislation along with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. “If we are serious about ensuring that our older adults and loved ones with disabilities receive the highest quality care in their own homes, then we owe it to our current and future generations to continue to fight to see the RAISE Family Caregivers Act move forward and be signed into law.”