(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Family unit” means one or more individuals whose primary residence is with a homebound elderly individual specifically for the purpose of providing care for that homebound elderly individual. The family does not necessarily need to be related by blood or marriage to the homebound elderly individual.
(b) “Respite” means in-home assistance for a homebound elderly individual from someone who is not a member of the family unit, which allows the family unit the ability to leave the homebound elderly individual for a period of time.
(c) “Stipend” means an allotment of funds to enable a diverse population of volunteers to provide services. The allotment of funds is for a maximum hourly rate that shall not exceed an amount equal to the federal minimum wage.
(d) “Volunteer service system” means an organized network of volunteers and agencies engaged in supporting volunteers to assist a family unit that requires respite.
(2) The “Respite for Elders Living in Everyday Families” (RELIEF) program will provide in-home respite that is an expansion of respite that is currently available through other programs, specifically including evening and weekend respite. The purpose of this service is to increase the ability of a family unit to continue to care for a homebound elderly individual by providing in-home respite beyond the basic provisions of current public programs.
(3) Respite services shall be provided through a multigenerational corps of volunteers, volunteers who receive a stipend, and any other appropriate personnel as determined by the department.
(a) Volunteers shall be screened, selected, trained, and registered according to standards developed by the Office of Volunteer and Community Services in the Department of Elderly Affairs. These standards must be developed to ensure, at a minimum, the safety of a homebound elderly individual who will receive the respite service.
(b) Volunteers may be recruited from a variety of sources, including, but not limited to, volunteer centers, religious organizations, college campuses, corporations, families, Retired Senior Volunteer Programs, Senior Companion Programs, and AmeriCorps Programs.
(4) To receive assistance from the RELIEF program, the family unit must be assessed according to the following guidelines developed by the department to determine the need for respite services. This assessment must determine, at a minimum, that:
(a) The family unit is unable to pay for respite without jeopardizing other basic needs, including, but not limited to, food, shelter, and medications.
(b) The homebound elderly individual for whom the family unit is caring is 60 years of age or older, requires assistance to remain in the home, and, without this assistance, would need to move to an assisted living facility or a nursing facility.
(5) A family unit that receives respite services from the RELIEF program is not excluded from receiving assistance from other governmental programs.
(6) The Office of Volunteer and Community Services shall:
(a) Systematically develop a volunteer service system in order to provide respite services under the RELIEF program. The office shall also implement, monitor, and evaluate the delivery of respite services under this program.
(b) Work collaboratively with local, state, and national organizations, including, but not limited to, the Florida Commission on Community Service, to promote the use of volunteers offering respite under this program.
(c) Encourage contributions and grants through public and private sources to promote the delivery of respite to assist family units providing care for homebound elderly individuals.