Sunday, May 21, 2006

House Committee Approves Reauthorization of Older Americans Act

Without opposition, the U.S. House Committee on Education & the Workforce has approved the Senior Independence Act (H.R. 5293), which reauthorizes and strengthens services offered under the Older Americans Act, the chief federal law governing the organization and delivery of a number of social services for older Americans. According to a summary of the bill, the legislation would, among other things safeguard employment-based training for older Americans by:
  • Maintaining the program’s dual purpose of community service and employment-based job training;
  • Allowing public or private nonprofit agencies and organizations to compete for national grants, which is consistent with current law;
  • Retaining the age of 55 for program eligibility (consistent with current law), but requiring grantees to first serve those with the greatest need, including individuals over the age of 65.
  • Strengthening opportunities for business sector partnerships
  • Requiring grantees to have an average time limit for participation not to exceed 2 years and limiting individual participation to not more than 4 years
Source: U.S. House Committee on Education & the Workforce Press Release (May 17, 2006)

While commending the House for its bipartisan agreement to reauthorize the Act, the AARP is concerned that "the participant tenure limits in this bill for the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) will disproportionately impact those oldest and hardest to serve. These vulnerable, low-income older workers, representing some 30 percent to 50 percent of the program's current participants (18,000 to 25,000 individuals) will be the first affected by these tenure limits." Press Release, May 18, 2006

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