What is the Hawai‘i Family Caregiver Coalition? How did they get started? Why are they here? Good questions!

The Hawai‘i Family Caregiver Coalition, or HFCC, is a group of organizations, including government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private businesses concerned with the needs of unpaid family caregivers. Friends and neighbors are often caregivers, in addition to family members. Most people don’t realize that on any given day in Hawai‘i, about 169,000 adults are caring for frail or impaired adults, and about 247,000 are caregivers at some time during the year. These caregivers provide an astounding 162 million hours of unpaid service during the year! The estimated dollar value of this service is $1.990 Billion per year.1 This potentially saves a tremendous amount of money for insurance companies, family members, and the state, which might otherwise have to pay for care through the Medicaid program or other sources.

HFCC started when Hawai‘i was selected in 2004 to participate in a project designed to create coalitions such as theirs at the state and local levels. This project was funded by the US Administration on Aging and conducted by the AARP Foundation. The Coalition emerged following a two-day training period, in which 27 organizations participated.

Most importantly, why is HFCC here?

HFCC exists because family caregivers often face great challenges, yet they are not represented by supporting organizations; and their needs are not known to most policymakers or by the community. HFCC’s member organizations support caregivers and their families either through providing direct services or by other means. They have joined together in order to achieve two goals: first, to identify gaps in service and advocate for service expansion which will need caregiver needs; and, second, to promote education to caregivers, professionals in the field of aging, policymakers, and the public regarding caregiver needs.

What does HFCC do?

Here are a few examples: During Family Caregiver Day at the Capitol, advocates and caregivers visit legislative offices to discuss legislative priorities and have family members share their personal experiences with caregiving. They also distribute copies of their annual Aging and Disabilities Issues report to lawmakers, senior organizations and the public. The Coalition’s Educational Symposiums offers members valuable information and a chance to learn new skills. The Speakers Bureau and educational materials are available at no charge.

Organizations interested in joining HFCC can contact Anthony Lenzer via email Tlenzer@hawaii.rr.com or call 808-261-2095. Mailing address is P.O. Box 3088, Honolulu, HI 96802.

(1) Lynn Feinberg, Susan C. Reinhard, Ari Houser, and Rita Choula. Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving. Washington, DC: AARP Public Policy Institute