CAN History

Since 1993, the Caregiver Action Network (formerly the National Family Caregivers Association) has been working to promote resourcefulness and respect for family caregivers across the country. There is now so much more support for family caregivers than twenty years ago due to this organization’s work.

In 1991, friends Suzanne Mintz and Cindy Fowler discovered similarities in their issues as caregivers. Suzanne cared for her husband with MS, and Cindy cared for her mother with Parkinson’s. Realizing others were likely in the same situation, they made it their mission to provide support. They wanted to help those who may not know how to reach out or even recognize themselves as “family caregivers.”

Together they founded the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) in 1993. “Our original vision was to get information and resources into people’s hands and to let them know they weren’t alone,” according to Fowler.

Suzanne Mintz reflected: “We wondered why no one seemed to focus on the significant impact of helping a loved one with a deteriorating illness, affecting both the person with the illness and those primarily responsible for their care.”  We were family caregivers and someone reached out to us, offering helpful information, advice, and emotional support. We needed real hands-on assistance precisely when we needed it most. NFCA was created to educate, support, empower, and advocate for America’s family caregivers, aiming to improve the quality of life for all caregiving families.”

History & Accomplishments of NFCA

NFCA focused on raising awareness about family caregivers. They emphasized their specific role within the population. Equally important was their effort to help caregivers recognize their role. They provided education, support, and a public voice for caregivers. This enabled them to speak up and seek the help they needed.

During these twenty years, NFCA achieved significant milestones. Public awareness of family caregiving soared with extensive media coverage. The National Family Caregivers Support Program was successfully passed. Thought leaders embraced the term “family caregiver.” Government officials recognized caregiving as a lifelong issue, not just for the elderly.

Ms. Mintz served as NFCA’s President and CEO for nineteen years. In June 2012, NFCA appointed John Schall as its Chief Executive Officer, making him only the second CEO in NFCA’s history. NFCA renamed itself the Caregiver Action Network on January 1, 2013, marking its twentieth anniversary.