Reps. Lee, Grothman Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Older American Employment Program Amid COVID-19

By: Rep. Susie Lee Press Release -- Washington, D.C. - U.S. Reps. Susie Lee (D-Nev.-03) and Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.-06) introduced bipartisan legislation last week to support and strengthen the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) during the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting additional administrative costs and allowing for increased enrollment of older workers in the program.

Established in 1965 by the Older Americans Act, the SCSEP is the nation’s oldest program to help low-income, unemployed individuals who are 55 years or older find work. SCSEP matches eligible older adults with part-time training assignments for non-profit organizations. 

“Especially during a public health emergency that is forcing millions of layoffs, we need to support programs like the SCSEP, which has helped thousands of older Americans find work since its founding,” said Rep. Lee. “Expanding support for this program helps both our older Americans find work, and our nation’s non-profit organizations that are on the front lines helping people during this pandemic. Thank you to my colleague Congressman Grothman for introducing this bipartisan bill with me and showing how important it is to come together across party lines to protect the economic security and well-being of our older Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.”

“Many Wisconsin seniors rely on the Senior Community Service Employment Program to find work, as do the non-profit organizations who depend on their help,” said Rep. Grothman. “During an economic disruption, like we’ve experienced with COVID-19, seniors often have trouble finding and returning to work.  I am glad that Rep. Lee and I could come together on this bipartisan solution that will keep Americans employed and our non-profit organizations strong.”

BACKGROUND: Created in 1965, SCSEP is the nation’s oldest program to help low-income, unemployed individuals aged 55+ find work. SCSEP matches eligible older adults with part-time training assignments for non-profit organizations. Participants build skills and self-confidence, while earning a modest income. For most, their SCSEP experience leads to permanent employment.

SCSEP is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and is one of three federal workforce development programs that does not overlap with any other similar program. The program serves nearly every county in the nation. National Council on Aging (NCOA) manages 25 SCSEP offices throughout the U.S., including Puerto Rico. NCOA’s work on SCSEP is funded at a 90 percent level by the U.S. Department of Labor and 10 percent is supported through matching non-federal dollars.

SCSEP was established in 1965 by Congress in Title V of the Older Americans Act. The impetus for authorizing the program was three-fold:

  • To improve the overall well-being and economic security of older Americans
  • To support nonprofits through community service
  • To help older Americans re-enter the labor workforce

Older Americans Act Reauthorization

Last week, Congresswoman Lee’s bipartisan bill, the Supporting Older Americans Act, was signed into law by the President. This landmark law reauthorizes and strengthens the Older Americans Act, which benefits roughly 11 million older Americans who use important social services and community-based programs like Meals on Wheels. The legislation also strengthens the aging network's ability to respond to public health emergencies and emerging health threats, like the COVID-19 pandemic. The Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020:

  • Authorizes a seven percent funding increase for OAA programs in the first year, then annual six percent increases in the following years;
  • Establishes a National Research, Demonstration, and Evaluation Center for the Aging Network in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of HHS;
  • Calls for a study on the coordination of federal resources to promote the independence and safety of adults living at home as they age;
  • Provides more tailored support to family caregivers, who play a vital role in helping aging Americans maintain their independence; and
  • Puts a stronger focus on addressing social isolation among seniors by empowering local organizations to test local solutions.

To read the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 bill text, click here.

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