Alameda County Takes Steps to Stabilize Senior Services

July 11, 2014 – On June 27, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors approved its 2014/15 Budget, including a directive to Social Services Agency Director Lori Cox and Health Care Services Agency Director Alex Briscoe to earmark emergency funding for senior services and to develop an integrated plan for providing long term, health and supportive services to seniors in Alameda County. Click here to read the memo that is now part of the County Budget.

The recommendation was advanced by Supervisors Nate Miley and Wilma Chan. Please take time to thank them, and to thank your own Supervisor for supporting the recommendation. Click here to go to SSC’s advocacy resources page for Supervisors’ contact information.

Will the funding be adequate? The recommendation does not state a dollar amount or a percentage increase. Instead, it directs the two Agency Directors to bring to the July 28, 2014 Social Services Committee Meeting “a strategy to earmark one-time only emergency stabilization funds” for community-based organizations that contract with the Area Agency on Aging for Older Americans Act and Senior Injury Prevention services.

These CBOs have been struggling to provide services to more seniors with increasingly complex needs in spite of historically inadequate funding. We hope that with oversight of the Board of Supervisors via the Committee and continued engagement on the part of stakeholders, the stabilization funding will make a meaningful difference for these resource-strapped programs.

Will a comprehensive plan deliver resources and build a more effective system? At the June 2013 hearing on the status of seniors, SSC urged the county to move forward to develop a comprehensive plan that will address its rapidly aging population and the increasing demand for senior services that are already straining the healthcare and aging services network. The new budget recommendation directs Social Services and Health Care Services Agencies to collaborate on an “integrated long term sustainable plan of service delivery to older adults” and bring that plan to a joint meeting of the health and social service committees in fiscal 14/15. If both agencies truly collaborate, avoid falling back into their silos, and tap into the knowledge of the aging services community, then we stand a chance of developing a plan that accurately identifies the needs, innovates the service network, and engages new financing strategies.

Last but not least…Also included in the Social Services Agency Budget for the new fiscal year is approximately $140,000 to backfill this year’s federal sequestration cuts. This funding means that units of service won’t be lost for Older Americans Act programs, but CBOs will face another year of complicated budget reports resulting from the staggered funding process.

Thank you to everyone who joined us in communicating the urgent need for County action to Supervisors and Agency leadership. We were heard!