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How to Become a Paid Caregiver for a Family Member in FL

How to Become a Paid Caregiver for a Family Member in FL
Estate Planning and Probate
Jason Neufeld
April 17, 2024

Caring for the elderly or disabled person could be one of the most fulfilling and also one of the most demanding roles one can have. Caring for a family member means spending countless hours, efforts, and resources to make a life better for someone you cherish. 

Yet, providing intensive care while still working and managing your home could rapidly cause you to exhaustion.

As a family caregiver, you may reach a point where you need to reduce your other commitments and focus more on caregiving. But this often means lost income. Is it possible to get paid to care for your family member in Florida?

Absolutely. With the right planning and resources, family members can get compensation for caregiving services through Medicaid, long-term care insurance, and other programs.

Training and Certification Open Doors

To provide care professionally in Florida, you’ll need proper training and credentials. Required certifications vary depending on the type of care provided.

Personal care attendants (PCAs) provide services like bathing, dressing, and meal preparation. They must complete a 40-hour training course approved by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and undergo fingerprinting and background checks.

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) can provide more extensive hands-on care. CNA certification requires completing a 120-hour training program and passing competency exams. Medication administration training may also be needed for tasks like giving medications.

Family caregivers demonstrate their competence to provide high-quality care when equipped with training and certifications. This helps open up opportunities for compensation.

How Family Caregivers Can Get Paid in Florida

While volunteering your time is noble, getting paid for caregiving is life-changing. Compensation allows you to focus on caregiving without jeopardizing your livelihood. Here are some of the main avenues family members can take to become paid caregivers in Florida:

Medicaid Waivers Let Families Get Paid

Medicaid is the key to getting paid for family caregiving in many cases. Through Medicaid long-term care waivers, relatives can be hired as caregivers.

Florida has several Medicaid waiver programs that allow in-home care services, including care by family members. The most commonly used are:

  • Long-Term Care Waiver - For seniors 65+ or disabled adults
  • Traumatic Brain Injury/Spinal Cord Injury Waiver
  • iBudget Waiver - For developmental disabilities

Individuals must meet financial criteria and require nursing home-level care to receive services through a waiver.

Self-Direction Puts Families in Control

Medicaid waivers in Florida allow self-direction of care services - which Florida refers to as the Participant Directed Option (PDO). With self-direction, the care recipient or their representative chooses their caregivers. Here is more information on how family caregivers get paid.

Relatives can be hired for personal care, companion services, and more. The family member must pass a background screening - but they otherwise do NOT need any formal certifications or licenses to be paid to provide care to a family member on the Medicaid Waiver program.

Medicaid sets compensation rates based on the type and amount of care provided. PDO payments to family caregivers are made through a fiscal management service that handles payroll, taxes, and compliance.

Long-Term Care Policies Offer Options

If your loved one has long-term care insurance, policy benefits may help pay for family member caregiving.  Some LTC policies have provisions for in-home care and even care by relatives. Others will require family members to get formal licenses and certifications to be paid for their time.

The daily or monthly benefit amount will determine the amount of compensation available. Paid family leave through an employer plan can also provide partial income replacement.

VA Programs Support Veteran Caregivers

For military veterans needing care, the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers gives approved primary family caregivers a stipend, training, and other support.

Eligible veterans must have incurred a serious injury in the line of duty. Caregivers provide at least 20 hours per week of personal care services.

Veterans can apply for the program by completing the application process, which includes submitting VA Form 10-10CG, either online, by mail, or in person at a local VA facility. It's important to note that as of October 1, 2023, the VA will no longer issue paper checks for the stipend, and caregivers must enroll in direct deposit to receive their payments.

Becoming a Certified Caregiver in Florida

Beyond tapping into programs that pay family caregivers, you may also want to become a professionally certified caregiver. Completing a training program and passing the state exam shows you’ve met strict standards for providing care - and may even result in Medicaid paying a higher hourly rate compared to those unlicensed caregivers. 

Professional certification can open up more job opportunities, lead to higher pay, and give you valuable skills.

Numerous community colleges, vocational schools, and eldercare agencies in Florida offer accredited caregiver training programs. These typically run from 4-12 weeks and cover critical topics like:

  • Personal care skills: bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting
  • Nutrition and meal preparation
  • Infection control and home safety
  • Dementia and behavioral care
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Emergency response

Some programs also include hands-on clinical training in a care facility. Make sure any program you choose has a state-approved curriculum.

Other Considerations for Paid Family Caregivers

If you secure payment for providing care to your relative, be sure to take the following additional steps:

Draw Up a Caregiving Contract

Even if your loved one is paying you informally, having a written caregiving contract is still advisable and, in the case of Medicaid compliance, required to prove that payments to family members are not gifts.. This document - commonly referred to as a Personal Services Contract or Family Caregiver Agreement, should spell out your hourly wage, caregiving schedule, list of duties, work location, and other expectations. Outlining the terms of your new paid working relationship in writing protects both you and your family members. The personal services contract or Medicaid caregiver agreement should be drafted by an experienced Medicaid-planning attorney to make sure it meets their strict requirements. 

Consult an Elder Law Attorney

Speaking with an attorney experienced in elder law and long-term care planning is highly recommended. They can review your caregiving agreement and help you avoid any pitfalls. An attorney can also provide guidance on Medicaid eligibility, estate planning, and other key financial considerations.

Explore Respite Care Options

Being a paid caregiver doesn’t mean you must provide round-the-clock care daily. Look into respite care services that could give you an occasional break. Adult daycare centers, in-home respite aides, and short-term nursing facility respite are options based on your family member’s needs. Taking advantage of respite allows you to recharge.

Caregiving From the Heart, With Help Along the Way

The elder law attorneys at Elder Needs Law have extensive experience advising family caregivers in Florida. We're happy to answer your questions and help you navigate this new path. 

Set up a consultation with us today to discuss your options. Call or request an appointment online. Together, we’ll clarify the best approaches so you can focus on providing the compassionate care your family member deserves.

Jason Neufeld

Jason Neufeld is the Founder and Managing Partner of Elder Needs Law, a Florida estate planning and elder law firm he created in 2017. With more than 15 years of experience practicing law, he represents clients in a wide range of legal matters, including Medicaid planning, estate planning, elder law, probate, Medicare, and life insurance.

Jason received his Juris Doctor from the University of Miami — School of Law and is a member of the Florida Bar and the Broward County Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named a Rising Star and Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers and among the Florida Legal Elite by Florida Trend in 2024.

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