Senior job seekers stand to benefit from a new bill recently introduced in the Senate to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA). First funded in 1965, the act was the first federal level initiative aimed at providing services for older adults.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced the bill (S. 2037) (PDF) on January 26 and highlighted several provisions in the legislation, including those intended to strengthen and expand the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).
Since 2006, Goodwill Industries International has been a national SCSEP grantee, helping seniors grow skills, land a job and earn an income. In addition, several local Goodwill® agencies are involved in SCSEP through state grants.
The bill calls for significant investments in four key areas – including at least $660 million for FY 2013 to support SCSEP. While SCSEP’s FY 2012 appropriation is $450 million, the larger proposed amount could improve prospects for increased funding levels in the future. However, such an increase is unlikely in the near future considering current concerns over debt and the deficit.
The proposal also addresses some of GII’s key priorities for reauthorization, including expanding pilot and demonstration authority to test sector strategies, and maintaining the 48-month durational limit of the program, and continuing with the structure of grant competition and data collection.
The bill would also require the Assistant Secretaries on Aging from the U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL) and Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a study on the feasibility of transferring the program from DOL to HHS’s Administration on Aging.
To date, Senators Casey (D-Penn.), Kohl (D-Wis.), Franken (D-Minn.), and Klobuchar (D-Minn.) have also introduced OAA reauthorization bills, and are expected to work together to craft a bill reflecting their priorities in the coming months.
While GII is currently evaluating how these proposals might affect its SCSEP programs, we look forward to working with Congress to reauthorize the OAA so that older workers can continue to receive the job-training skills they need to return to work.