Volunteer Advocates to Plead Case for Council on Aging’s Priorities
(Atlanta, GA – February 1, 2018) – On February 7-8, nearly 600 older adults from all over Georgia will go to the Georgia Capitol to meet with their legislators. The meetings are part of Senior Week, held annually by the Georgia Council on Aging and CO-AGE (the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Advocates) to focus attention on the needs of Georgia’s seniors.
The theme of the week is “Stretching Dollars for Seniors,” reinforcing the message that programs such as Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) and the network of Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) are cost-effective investments that enhance the quality of life for older Georgians and persons with disabilities while saving the state money.
The advocates will seek to persuade lawmakers to include additional resources in the state budget -- $10 million for Home and Community-Based Services and $4 million for the Aging and Disability Resource Centers, both CO-AGE priorities for 2018. In addition, these volunteers will seek support for two issues that will help keep seniors safer -- tougher penalties for personal care homes that fail to comply with state regulations and a statewide registry of individuals who have a history of abusing vulnerable adults. These four issues were adopted by CO-AGE members as their legislative priorities last summer during their annual meeting in Macon.
ADRC funding is particularly critical this year. Until now, Georgia has funded the program through two federal grants. Yet, this funding has now run out. Without an allocation in the state budget, it is likely that services will have to be cut. Those cuts would be potentially devastating.
Last year some 92,000 Georgians called their local ADRC for help in navigating the complex array of services and programs for older adult or persons with disabilities. Further, the program is very cost-effective and a great investment in Georgia’s elderly and disabled. In the last three years some 75 to 80 percent of callers have been diverted to private pay resources or given info only.
The Georgia Council on Aging (GCOA) was created by the Georgia General Assembly in 1977 to advise the governor, assembly, and state agencies on matters relating to Georgia’s seniors. Members of the 20-person council, drawn from every region of the state, also advocate for aging Georgians and their families and make recommendations to lawmakers and agencies on programs for seniors.