Providence Business News: AARP honors Goodwin, Regunberg for helping family caregivers


By Rob Borkowski


PROVIDENCE – AARP honored Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin, D-Providence, and Rep. Aaron Regunberg, D-Providence, on March 6 for their work passing earned paid sick leave legislation last year, codifying an employee benefit providing workplace flexibility caregivers need to care for loved ones.

Goodwin and Regunberg join state-level lawmakers and other officials from around the country as 2017 AARP Capitol Caregivers.

“AARP thanks these members of the General Assembly for championing passage of earned paid sick leave,” said AARP Rhode Island Director Kathleen Connell. “They provided integral leadership to pass the legislation in 2017 and helped make the huge responsibilities of family caregivers in Rhode Island a little bit easier.”

Past Rhode Island Capitol Caregiver honorees include former Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello, Sens. Gayle L. Goldin, D-Providence, Joshua Miller, D-Cranston, and Roger A. Picard, D-Woonsocket, former Rep. Eileen S. Naughton and Reps. Joseph M. McNamara, D-Warwick, and Brian Patrick Kennedy, D-Hopkinton.

Family caregivers carry a huge responsibility. According to AARP’s Public Policy Institute, at any time during the year an estimated 134,000 Rhode Island caregivers step up to provide nearly 150 million hours of care for an aging parent or loved one, helping them to live independently in their own homes. The care these family caregivers provide is valued at nearly $1.8 billion per year.

“Family caregivers are the backbone of Rhode Island’s care system,” said Connell. “And they need our support. Thanks to the General Assembly, working caregivers qualify for temporary paid leave, similar to temporary disability insurance, but under the law, qualifying employees must plan their leave.

“Earned paid sick leave allows caregivers, under a number of circumstances, to use accrued paid time off to address an emergency. This provides peace of mind for caregivers who often struggle to balance their jobs and their caregiving responsibilities,” Connell said.

Every day, 40 million Americans help parents, spouses and other loved ones live independently at home, where they want to be. Care responsibilities can include providing transportation, cooking meals, managing finances, performing complex medical tasks, helping with bathing and dressing, and so much more. Sixty percent of family caregivers juggle full- or part-time jobs with their caregiving duties, and many are still raising their families.

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