Hawaii becomes first state to offer money to caregivers with jobs
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thousands of Hawaii residents are struggling to care for ill or disabled relatives while trying to keep a full-time job.
Now, Hawaii is providing assistance to make it easier for those caregivers.
The Kupuna Caregivers Act passed Thursday, making Hawaii the first state in the nation to offer money to caregivers who also work full-time.
Under the act, full-time working caregivers can earn up to $70 per day to help ease financial stress so they won't have to give up their jobs.
Caregivers who work at least 30 hours per week could use the money toward health care, meals, transportation and other home services for their dependents over 60.
The landmark legislation took 21 years to pass and it's being closely watched by national organizations to see if it can benefit other states.
Beth Hoban is one of those caregivers. She cares for her 93-year-old mother, Mamang, while running a full-time home health business.
For this loving daughter, it's difficult to see their roles reversed.
"It's like having a toddler or a child at home. You have to make the time to make sure you get her prepared make sure her meals are ready," said Hoban.
Mamang, who's battled a heart condition, shattered her right arm four months ago in a fall, making simple tasks difficult for her since she is right handed.
Now Mamang is learning to eat with her left hand and depends on Hoban to feed her and help with basic personal care.
According to AARP, there are about 154,000 unpaid family caregivers in the state, and Hawaii's aging population is on the rise.
Advocates say the Kupuna Caregivers Act provides some respite.
"This isn't just about elderly. This is something that touches us all," Pedro Haro, Hawaii Advocacy Director for Caring Across Generations.
Experts say home health care and assisted living in Hawaii can cost $5,000 to $10,000 dollars per month so while $70 per day isn't much, supporters say it's a start.
"It's really going to be great to be able to afford those options," said Hoban.
The bill provides $600,000 dollars as initial money for the program. Advocates will need to go back to the legislature to ask for more next year.
The state's Executive Office on Aging is setting up the program, and limited funds will be distributed from the County Aging and Disability Resource Centers.
The Aging and Disability Resource Center can be reached at 643-2372 or the ADRC TTY line at 808-643-0899.
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