While reducing barriers to employment equity among diverse communities is a long-term project which will take decades to address, older adults need income-generating opportunities now.
There is only one federal employment program for low-income older adults: the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). In SCSEP, program participants are provided with part-time, subsidized employment at non-profit and public agencies, while they receive training, job placement assistance, and supportive services. A recent Government Accountability Office study found that SCSEP was one of the few non-duplicative federal programs in existence. Despite this finding, SCSEP recently suffered a 45 percent cut to its budget, reducing those served from 78,021 to 46,125 annually.
SCSEP remains a vital link to employment, community service, and job training for diverse elders; given the demographics, it should be expanded, not cut. Recommendations include:
Expand SCSEP to reflect the growth and diversity of the aging population. SCSEP operators serving diverse elders across the country experience long waitlists. For example, the National Indian Council on Aging’s SCSEP waitlist is 505, more than its total number of SCSEP slots (476) this fiscal year due to the budget cut. The National Asian Pacific Center on Aging’s SCSEP program has a waitlist of 300 individuals in nine different cities. The recent cut is projected to reduce NAPCA’s program from 1,141 to only 581 participants, while demand continues to increase due to the recessionary impacts.
Community service should be maintained as a strong program component. In addition to helping older workers achieve self-sufficiency, SCSEP provides an economic boost to communities and much needed assistance to non-profit and public agencies where the older workers provide services.
Eliminate durational limits for SCSEP. Participants in SCSEP should be allowed to remain on the program, rather than be subjected to the maximum time extension they are permitted under current law.
Priority service to older individuals with multiple barriers to employment should be maintained as a strong emphasis and the program should continue to provide the full range of customized services and supports that have been proven successful in serving older workers and helping them transition to the workforce.
This excerpt is taken from Securing Our Future: Advancing Economic Security for Diverse Elders, by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. Read the full report >>