Citizenship status does not determine eligibility
By Becky Hadiaris, Family Caregiver Support Program Coordinator
In the fall of 2022, Maine’s Office of Aging and Disability Services at the Department of Health and Human Services began implementing a new program called Respite for ME. The program will give $2,000 to caregivers to access respite care or other services not currently covered by existing programs. The funds will be available for 2 years – from October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2024. This means that eligible caregivers could receive $2,000 per year, or a total of $4,000.
Like every state-funded program, Respite for ME has eligibility requirements. These requirements do not include income level and citizenship status.
To be eligible:
- You, as a caregiver, must be an informal and unpaid care provider.
- Both the caregiver and the person who receives care must be residents of Maine.
- The person you care for must not live in an assisted living facility or nursing home. However, you can apply for Respite for ME if they are on the waitlist for one of these kinds of homes.
- As a caregiver you must meet of the following criteria:
- You are at least 18 years old and you provide unpaid care for somebody who is 60 years or older, or
- You are at least 18 years old and you provide unpaid care to somebody with dementia, or
- You are 55 and older and you provide unpaid care to children under 18 years and you are not their parent, or
- You are 55 years or older and you care for an adult with disabilities who is between 18 and 59 years old.
- The caregiver must show evidence that they were negatively impacted financially and/or suffered economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic after January 2020. Examples of a negative impact include:
- Job loss
- Reduction in household income/loss of hours or wages
- Incurring significant costs for healthcare, childcare, or dependent care
- Increased cost of grocery delivery
- Other financial hardships related to the pandemic/loss of supplemental income
- You can apply for the grant if you or the person you care for is on MaineCare, as long as they do not receive services through state-funded programs such as Respite Care, Home Modifications or Repairs, or Assistive Technology and Devices.
- If you share caregiving responsibilities with somebody else in the household, only one of you can apply for Respite for ME. For example, if your 19-year-old child lives with you and you both take care of your father, who is 80 and cannot care for himself, either you or your child can apply for the $2,000 Respite for ME grant, but not both of you.
- If you care for more than one person in the household, you can apply for only one Respite for ME grant per year per household.
- You will not get the $2,000 up front, but will need to provide receipts proving that you spent $2,000 on qualifying expenses before you can be reimbursed.
- The Agency on Aging that serves the area where you live can work with you to assess your needs and develop a tailored care plan to determine what covered services will best assist you and the person in your care.
For more information or to apply, contact your local agency on aging’s Family Caregiver program:
Aroostook AAA (207) 764-3396
Eastern AAA (207) 941-2865
SeniorsPlus (207) 795-4010
Southern Maine AAA (207) 396-6500 (language line available by request)
Spectrum Generations (207) 622-9212
If you don’t know which agency serves your area, call (877) 353-3711 to be connected to your local area agency on aging or visit www.maine.gov/givecare.