« PreviousContinue »
purposes. We were shocked to learn that the Administration recommended the expiration of this Title at the very time that NCOA has identified the value and expanding role of Senior Centers in local communities through research sponsored by the Administration on Aging.
The research also demonstrates that inadequate and often dangerous facilities are common barriers to service delivery. Hundreds of program leaders filling out the survey questionnaires spontaneously included such statements as the one from Joppa, Maryland:
Our county, Harford, really needs a Senior Center where we could gather to meet new people and do things together.
Once a year the county gives a dinner and we contribute to help pay for it.
Once a year Parks and Recreation gives senior citizens a picnic. We furnish everything. They furnish a county park for us to have it in.
Our money, every penny, is raised by our members dues, bingo, auctions, or
chances, Or from Freeport, Illinois :
We are in desperate need of a senior citizen Community Center in our area and keep getting the runaround from everyone. They say there are no
funds available. Still others, such as those in a community in South Dakota, tell us :
We have been handicapped because our building was so small ... We are building a 22 x 48 foot cement block building. We have served coffee and
pastries to the public to make money for this building. It is clear that Senior Centers, especially those with adequate funds for appropriate staff, make available programs which meet multiple needs of the elderly; not just obvious needs to meet with their peers, have a hot meal or receive infor. mation, counseling or referral to other community services. Senior Centers also help older people to help themselves and to continue developing and growing. Senior Centers provide opportunities for older persons to explore new areas of learning, to serve their community as volunteers, to become involved in civic projects, and to augment their incomes through part-time employment or the development of small businesses such as catering services, home repair services, or handcraft sales. Given all this, how can the Administration choose to let Title V expire?
Some say that the new Community Development Act of 1974 does what Title V was established to do. It does not. Title V was never intended to provide for the construction of Senior Centers. That's certainly needed. And, of course, we hope that Community Development funds will be used for construction. But, Title V has a more realistic and, in many ways, more important task of acquiring, altering and renovating existing facilities. The legislation is geared to the adaptation of existing facilities which are unused or under-used and need alteration to make them more appropriate to serve older persons. New York City, for instance, has been renovating nearly one hundred facilities; adding kitchens so they can serve as Title VII sites. Now, the state is uncertain that it can supply the money it had allocated for this project. If Federal funds were available under Title V, communities could alter existing unused schools, empty restaurants or stores, and under-used churches to become neighborhood-based focal points for delivery of services to older people.
Certainly, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should encourage in any way it can local communities to provide Senior Centers with funds from monies allocated under the Housing and Community Development Act. But the record of HUD in the past has not been impressive. Under the Neighborhood Facilities Act, less than one percent of persons served under the program were over 65. We have no reason to beileve things will change under the new act.
But programs aren't simply facilities, but staff and supplies as well. Where facilities alone are made available programs and services tend to be limited and uninspired. Yet, we believe that the ideal as described in NCOA's brochure "What is a Multipurpose Senior Center?” (which we include in the appendix) is a sound and sensible objective for Federal funds. We not only urge this Committee to estend Title V, but also to expand its provisions to include support for operational costs to ensure the maintenance of these vital programs.
We have talked about comprehensive coordinated services for a long time. It's time now to do something about the fragmented delivery of those services. What is needed is a strong Title V which identifies Senior Centers as the community-based delivery points for the services mandated in the rest of the Older Americans Act. In this way, the Congress would greatly increase the chances that
monies appropriated for service would in fact go to services so desperately needed by older people.
6. WHAT SHOULD BE THE ROLE OF TITLE IX-COMMUNITY SERVICE EMPLOYMENT FOR
OLDER AMERICANS? Mr. Chairman, NCOA strongly supports continuation and expansion of Title IX. Since 1968, NCOA has had in-depth experience with the Senior Aide Program through its Senior Community Service Project (SCSP). Currently NCOA administers Title IX and Operation Mainstream funded projects in 26 areas of the country with a total enrollment of 1400 older workers. We continue to receive about eight applicants for each available job. Increasingly, we have had success in placing participants in permanent employment in the competitive labor force. SCSP is designed to promote self-help, not dependency,
The need for employment among older workers is great and continues to grow with little or no governmental response, Our experiences make it clear that a. significant number of the men and women over 55 who are not in the labor force desire part-time employment as provided under Title IX. In November, 1974, persons 45 and over represented more than 18 percent of the total unemployed, 28 percent of those unemployed for 15 weeks or longer, and 37 percent of the individuals looking for jobs 27 weeks or longer. Nevertheless, as of December 1974, persons aged 45 and above totaled approximately 4 percent of all enrollees. benefitting from the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1973. (CETA). The CETA program is characteristic of previous Federal manpower programs which have "track records” of not responding to the needs of older workers. Since Title IX is the only Federal manpower program to have successfully addressed the employment needs of our older population while also permitting communities to improve their delivery of services, it is imperative that it be extended and expanded.
Title IX and Operation Mainstream components of the Manpower Administration have been highly successful. NCOA recommends that these programs continue to be administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and consolidated into a single categorical manpower program for older persons aged 55 and above. We believe that the national contractors with experience in the administration of the older worker programs should have a continued, but increasingly diminished role in the implementation of Title IX. There is a need for an expanded technical assistance effort by the national contractors with the eventual goal of local administration of the program. Lastly, we feel a three-year extension with the following authorized levels of funding would result in more effective program planning : $100 million for FY 1976; $150 million for FY 1977; and $200 million for FY 1978.
These changes will enable many older persons to continue using their accumulated skills and experiences in meaningful community services. We urge this Committee to counter the Department of Labor's decision to terminate the Operation Mainstream Older Worker Program on June 30, 1975.
At a time when the nation is confronted with the highest unemployment rate in a quarter of a century, when many older people are reducing their intake of daily meals to one meal a day, and when social service agencies will be strained to their utmost, America surely needs the help of these older people experienced in providing sound social services in their own communities. What this country doesn't need is greater unemployment among older persons who would eventually become a burden on the Federal treasury.
8. WHAT FUTURE DIRECTIONS SHOULD BE DEVELOPED UNDER THE OLDER AMERICANS
Focusing on the original objectives of the Act, we find there are a number of new directions which should be mandated in the coming years.
1. To meet the growing need for expanded employment opportunities, we urge this Committee to establish a new Title X-the Middle-Aged and Older Workers Employment Act. This Title passed the Senate in 1972, but was not included in the final law. Title X would establish a comprehensive mid-career development services program in the Department of Labor to provide training, counseling and special supportive services for persons 45 or older.
Mr. Chairman, NCOA's extensive work in the manpower field convinces us that the mature worker will never receive such assistance from the Federal government without the passage and implementation of such an act. I am providing for each member of this Committee an NCOA study on the services provided to applicants by the U.S. Employment Service. That study clearly shows that almost without exception the applicant over 40 does not receive the attention of his younger counterpart in counseling, training or referral. If we would only try to solve the employment problems of mature workers, we could find that the retirement income problems which plague so many older people would ultimately be diminished. NCOA believes that Title X lets us begin to address the pressing employment problems of mature workers.
2. Objective two of the Act seeks to increase the chances that the elderly will have “the best possible physical and mental health which science can make available * we urge your support for a Commission on the Mental Health and Illness of the Elderly as part of Title II of the Older Americans Act. Such a commission would be charged with developing a national policy on mental health and illness of the elderly. Public policy in this area is confused at present, or non-existent. As a result ,millions of oldr citizens suffer unnecessary hardships.
Large numbers of geriatric mental health patients are being released across the country without provision of appropriate follow-up services. Many other geriatic patients with serious mental health problems go undiagnosed. The fact that 25 percent of all suicides in the United States occur in the age group over 65 is clear evidence of the need for a more adequate response by the Federal government in this area. The 93rd Congress enacted legislation which included such a Commission. Unfortunately, that bill was vetoed by the President because he objected to other unrelated provisions.
3. Objective seven of the Act seeks for older people the "pursuit of meaningful activity within the widest range of civil, cultural and recreational opportunities." We feel that the elderly and all of society can mutually benefit from the sig. nificant involvement of older people in the Bicentennial celebration. Yet, there is stlil no visible effort, on the part of policy makers within the national Bicentennial apparatus (American Revolution Bicentennial Administration) to include the present elder generation as an integral part of the program emphases. The Bicentennial is a review of and a projection for the best of things that our society did, does and will stand for. Yet the elderly are not named in any category of people, places or projects listed on the Bicentennial computerized information system (BINET). Youth projects rate a separate category of events but people 65 and over, citizens who have helped shape one-third or more of the two centuries we are celebrating, are hidden in the all-too-familiar catch-all category, "OTHER.” At this rate, the Bicentennial celebration will come and go except for unusually sensitive communities the use of the elderly's talents will be totally ignored-a mirror of the elderly's image.
Since the Bicentennial Administration seems unwilling to include the elderly, we ask Congress to mandate a special Bicentennial program with emphasis on the contributions, skills and talents of the elderly. Let us show that the elderly are an integral part of the Bicentennial celebration of the nation's past, present and future.
One of NCOA's programs which addresses itself to opening "meaningful activities” for older persons is its Center for Older Americans and the Arts. The Center is a reflection of NCOA's continuing efforts to seek new alliances that enhance the quality of life for the elderly. The Center serves as a catalyst to spark new programs that can bring the elderly into a stimulating environment of creativity and intercommunications with the arts; it is anticipated that this needed and long-neglected alliance will benefit both.
The Center represents only a first step toward increasing the involvement of the elderly in the cultural and humanistic aspects of American soceity. We hope that the Congress would mandate such a thrust in not only AoA's future directions but also at the National Endowments of the Arts and Humanities.
The Congress has an opportunity to revitalize the Older Americans Act, to revitalize the lives of our older citizens, and to rededicate efforts to help those who have contributed so much to our nation and who can continue to contribute, if only given the chance.
THE NATIONAL COUNCIL ON THE AGING, INC.,
Washington, D.C., February 11, 1975. Hon. JouN BRADEMAS, U.S. House of Representatives, Chairman, Select Education Subcommittee,
Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. DEAR CONGRESSMAN BRADEMAS : As I mentioned in my testimony before the Select Subcommittee on Education on February 4, I am pleased to respond in writing to your request for clarification of NCOA's testimony on extension of the Older Americans Act.
1. The use of qualified older people as auditors or evaluators of Older American programs.
There are thousands of retired professionals with expertise in the area of monitoring, auditing and/or evaluation. There are numerous other retired people who could be easily trained to monitor and even audit such programs. For example, in the nursing home area there has been a great deal of discussion of the misuse of Federal Medicaid funds. This is not the first scandal regarding the care given to the elderly in long-term institutions. We feel there is a role that non-institutionalized elderly can play in making sure their less fortunate peers are not forced to live in such unconscionable conditions. Long-term care conditions are, however, not the only area in need of peer evaluation. All programs directed at older persons which use Federal funds could be improved by such a monitoring system-Supplemental Security Income, food stamps and others.
There are a number of ways that such a program could be authorized under the Older Americans Act: (1) Section 308(a) establishes model projects to “expand or improve social services or otherwise promote the well-being of older persons." In making grants and contracts under this provision, the Commissioner could be directed to give priority to the use of older people as monitors/ evaluators of Federal aging programs; (2) A new Section 405 could be written giving the Commissioner authority to make grants to public or nonprofit private agencies to recruit and/or train older people to act as monitors/evaluators of these programs.
2. Priority questions concerning the future of the Area Agencies on Aging.
We fear that, in many cases, the AAA's caused increased duplication rather than the coordination and stimulation of unused local resources. Many of the questions posed in our testimony are directly related to that concern-the relationship of the AAA's to local governments, local voluntary agencies, elderly consumers, and the State Units on Aging. Reports from the field lead us to believe that, in some areas, existing facilities such as senior centers have been ignored in the AAA's planning process. We need to develop indices for use in evaluating the operation of an Area Agency and then attempt to isolate those factors which encourage success and those which lead to failure.
3. Potential conflict between Multipurpose Senior Centers (Title V of OAA) and Area Agencies.
The Area Agencies on Aging were designed as planning/coordinating bodies and strictly prohibited from being providers of service. Multipurpose senior centers can be a primary focal point in the community for the delivery of services to older people. Rather than being in conflict, we feel strongly that the AAA's mandate for planning/coordination of services and the senior centers' capacity as a service deliverer are uniquely complementary. The 1973 Amendments to the Older Americans Act were designed to enhance comprehensive coordinated services. Now it is time to do something about the fragmented delivery of those services. The AAA's should be mandated to utilize existing facilities such as senior centers to more effectively and efficiently deliver critical services to older people.
4. A continued, but increasingly diminished role for national contractors in the administration of Title IX program.
As a demonstration program, Operation Mainstream has proven that older people have much to offer in terms of public service employment, and that such work can provide them with needed income, as well as personal satisfaction. Therefore, we believe this program should be a permanent, categorical manpower program for older persons aged 55 and above.
The national contractors have served an essential role of assisting local sponsors in establishing these programs. As the program is expanded, there is a continuing need for such technical assistance from the national to the local level. Yet, the involvement of national contractors should be phased out as local sponsors acquire the capacity to adequately administer these programs. Following that development, the national contractors should serve as prograin monitors/ evaluators to make sure that Federal funds are effectively distributed to older workers.
Specifically, the transition from national contractors to local prime sponsors could be accomplished by slowly shifting Federal monies from the national to the local level over the next three fiscal years. The legislation could require a three-year limit on national administration of new individual local programs, but also mandate a continuing monitoring role for national contractors.
Thank you for this opportunity to clarify these points in our testimony. We look forward to assisting the Subcommittee in any way we can in extending and expanding the Older Americans Act to serve the needs and potentials of the nation's older citizens. Sincerely,
Erecutive Director, Mr. BRADEMAS. Mr. Bell. Mr. BELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Ossofsky, I recognize that money is a problem for the elderly, and I realize that many desire increased money for this legislation. Can anything be done in this bill to help our program without new dollars
Mr. OsSOFSKY. Is it possible for us to continue to survive without new bread? If we stand still as new older people come into the ranks and as new services and expectations are aroused on the part of the public and we try to correct inadequate funding in the past, it seems to me there is no way we can adequately meet the expectations and needs of older Americans without new resources.
I would be fooling you and myself and the public at large if I told you we could provide the same level of services with the same dollars. Indeed, in the nutrition programs, the cost of food, the cost of staff, the cost of transportation, the cost of fuel to bring people to the meals are all going up, so that simply standing still means we are retrogressing.
Mr. BELL. Are you saying "no" then to that question?
Mr. BELL. My next question that one would ask is this. Will money alone solve the senior citizens problem? I would say that your answer would be “yes” to that?
Mr. Ossofsky. Well, no; my answer to that is "no" also. Money alone will not do it, but without money, nothing will be done.
Mr. Bril. Then let me turn the question around. What can be done without money?
Mr. OsSOFSKY. What can be done without money is nothing. What I am saying is. without money you can't get a thing done. Mr. BELL. You can't have it both
ways. Mr. Ossorski. I intend to have it both ways, and I think Congress must have it both ways. There are things we must do in addition to providing money. If you are saying, “Are there things we can do?!
Mr. BELL. Bear in mind, I said, “Can anything be done in this bill to help our senior citizens without new dollars?" and your answer was, "No."
“Will monev alone solve the senior citizens' problems?” Your answer must be, "Yes";