Rhode Island is the third state to offer a Temporary Caregiver Insurance Program (TCI) and according to research, the program is very popular. Yet about half of those surveyed during a review of the first year of the program’s implementation were unaware of this benefit.
According to the DLT website:
The Temporary Caregiver Insurance Program was signed into law and will become effective as of January 5, 2014. Individuals may apply for benefits as of January 5, 2014.
• An individual may receive up to a max. of 4 weeks of TCI benefits (which will reduce the max. weeks of TDI) during a Benefit Year Period
• To care for a for a seriously ill child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, parent-in-law, or grandparent………or
• To Bond with a newborn child, adopted child or foster-care child (available during the first 12 months of parenting only)
• Monetary eligibility is determined the same as for TDI benefits
• Caregiver claims: the claimant is responsible to obtain the medical documentation necessary
• Bonding claims: the claimant is responsible to provide proof of child/parenting relationship.
TCI will payout roughly 2/3rds of your wages during your time off.
The RI Department of Labor and Training, (DLT) contracted the Schmidt Labor Research Center at the University of Rhode Island to analyze data and make recommendations as to the public’s awareness of the program, ability to access the program, impacts of the program on families and work, and to identify barriers that prevent families from accessing the program. At an event hosted by the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, researchers Barb Silver, Helen Mederer and Emilija Djurdjevic presented their findings.
About half of those surveyed were aware of TCI. Those more aware “were more likely to have higher incomes and education.” There was less awareness among lower income, older, less educated and non-white populations. Also, employees working for smaller employers and for employers who offer less benefits were less likely to be aware of TCI.
Even those aware of the program were not fully informed as to all its benefits. Just over half understood that TCI provides job security: If you access TCI, your job will be waiting for you when you return to work. Half also are unaware that the program offers 60 percent wage replacement. Only a quarter realized that the program is funded by employee contributions.
Because of this the URI researchers suggest targeted marketing to those populations who are not taking advantage of the program and a focus on job security and employee contributions in that marketing.
The majority of users used TCI to bond with a new child. Only 22 percent took TCI to care for an ill family member.
Compared to other forms of time off to deal with family adjustment or caring for an ill family member, those who used TCI reported easier transitions back to work, lower absenteeism, better overall physical health, lower stress, more baby wellness visits, greater likelihood of following medical advice and greater likelihood of breastfeeding. The “ability to initiate nursing is a key public health issue,” said one of the presenters.
Those accessing TCI were better able to maintain their financial security as well.
The greatest barriers to accessing TCI are lack of awareness, inability to afford the loss of income, lack of employer benefits and worry about negative work outcomes.
Ultimately the research found that TCI is “needed, appreciated, and has current and long-lasting positive effects on employees.”
“We know people love it,” said Jenn Steinfeld, executive director of the Women’s Fund RI, “We need word of mouth to get the word out to more people.”