It was an exciting week at the Department of Aging. Not only did we get to enjoy a preview of summer weather in this second week of March, but we publicly launched key details pertaining to our State Plan on Aging planning process.
Many of you are aware that under the Older Americans Act, the Department of Aging – as the State Unit on Aging – is required to develop and implement a State Plan on Aging. The Plan outlines how we will protect the commonwealth’s most vulnerable and empower individuals to age in place with the dignity and respect they deserve. The Plan is prepared every four years and our next State Plan on Aging will cover the time period of October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2020.
To ensure that we develop a State Plan on Aging that is responsive and responsible, we will host seven Community Listening Forums in regions throughout the Commonwealth. Each Forum will provide concerned stakeholders – like you – with an opportunity to tell us what they think about the programs and services we provide or facilitate. Are they benefiting older Pennsylvanians, or are they not effective? What is being done well or what needs to be improved? Input received during each forum will be woven into the existing framework of the State Plan and will enable us to create a draft state plan for final review and feedback. Public comment on the draft state plan will then be received during three Public Hearings to be held in May. While the Public Hearing locations and dates are scheduled, specifics on registration are forthcoming.
We invite you to learn more about the State Plan on Aging by visiting aging.pa.gov and making arrangements to attend a Community Listening Forum. If you are not able to attend a forum, please take a few moments to complete a brief online survey which was developed to help you share comments and concerns. Additional details, including time, date and location of each event, can be accessed using the following links:
Community Listening Forums | Public Hearings.
Regardless of the role you play – whether you are an older adult, a caregiver, an aging services provider, an advocate, a healthcare professional, or an elected official – your voice needs to be heard. In sending you this Wrap Up message, we seek your help in two important ways. First, consider providing input at a Community Listening Forum, offer testimony at a Public Hearing or complete the online survey. Second, please help us spread the word about the various opportunities available for concerned stakeholders to engage in our State Plan on Aging planning process by sharing this information with others in your network and with those you serve.
On Thursday, the excitement continued as I was pleased to join Senator Art Haywood, Democratic Chair of the Aging and Youth Committee, at the Center in the Park in Philadelphia to discuss Governor Wolf’s 2016-17 proposed budget and its effects on the Department of Aging. We were grateful for the hospitality and kindness extended by Lynn Fields Harris, Executive Director of Center in the Park, her Council members, and members of Center in the Park, a community center focused on the needs of older persons.
Since 1968, Center in the Park has fostered respect, independence and personal growth for the women and men that it serves, and this week the center provided us with the space and audience necessary to highlight the importance of Governor Wolf’s proposed 2016-17 budget for the Department of Aging, which poses two distinct realities for Pennsylvania’s future. The first reality ensures that government fulfills its duty to provide essential social services for our most vulnerable citizens, including older Pennsylvanians, while the other reality causes our seniors hardship by way of significant property tax increases at the local level and waiting lists for home and community based services. Our proposed budget will allow the Department to continue its critical mission to serve our most vulnerable residents who look to us and our network of local Area Agencies on Aging when they need to access the services necessary to live a safe, healthy, quality of life with the dignity and respect they deserve. If we all work together to support the governor’s budget, we can reaffirm Pennsylvania’s rich history of compassion and make certain that older Pennsylvanians have access to the services and supports necessary to age in place in their homes and communities.
To view the Friday Wrap-Up in full, click: Friday Wrap-Up (PDF)