NBC News explains, in the article titled “Hawaii Passes Law to Ease Responsibility of Elder Care,” that the Kupuna Caregivers Act was signed Hawaii Gov. David Ige. It is the first of its kind in the nation. The Act provides qualified caregivers with a voucher of up to $70 per day that can be used toward services that they would otherwise perform themselves, such as adult day care and assisted transportation.
Elderly care support is usually granted directly to care recipients, but the Kupuna Caregivers Act grants assistance to working family caregivers. These folks can be caring for family members who are above the Medicaid eligibility threshold. Although the grants don’t cover the entire cost of care that families need, it does allow them to provide more hours of in-home care and other services.
The burden of care right now in Hawaii is falling heavily on family members. This is particularly true for those who are referred to as the “sandwich generation”—stuck between the demands of both child care and elder care.
The Kupuna Caregivers Act stipulates that providing long term care for elderly family members without compensation can result in chronic stress. Due to the high cost of institutional care, children of elderly parents may leave their careers to provide the care themselves, the law says. The legislator acknowledged that there is a considerable amount of support that family caregivers who are working full time need to properly care for their loved ones—and not make impossible choices between keeping their jobs and being able to care for their loved ones. If they opt to care for their loved ones and leave their workplace, they also need support to adequately afford and provide good quality care.
Almost a quarter million Hawaiian residents—18.7% of the state’s population—are age 60 and older, says a report by the Center of the Family at the University of Hawaii.
Of those residents, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) make up over half of the total. AARP finds that Hawaii has roughly 154,000 unpaid caregivers. It’s estimated that 92,400 of those are AAPI caregivers. In the AAPI community, the majority believe they are expected to care for their parents, a recent study found. However, trying to do this without pay can take a toll on caregivers.
The legislature has allocated a budget of $600,000 for the program for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
Reference: NBC News (July 11, 2017) “Hawaii Passes Law to Ease Responsibility of Elder Care”