Governor’s budget proposal includes $11.7M to implement plan.

Gov. Josh Shapiro visits Souderton to unveil 10-year plan bolstering PA senior services

Governor Shapiro, alongside Secretary of Aging Jason Kavulich and other local leaders, presents Aging Our Way, PA, a 10-year plan to improve service delivery for Pennsylvania’s seniors. Photo by John Worthington | The Reporter.

  • Montgomery County

Gov. Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging Jason Kavulich and other local leaders gathered at the Generations of Indian Valley senior center Friday afternoon to unveil “Aging Our Way PA,” a 10-year plan billed to improve service delivery for Pennsylvania’s seniors.

“It’s a bold vision of a future where older adults can age with dignity and independence with the supports they need in order to succeed,” said Shapiro.

The fifth oldest state in the country, Pennsylvania has seen a rapid growth in its senior population, expected to reach 3.8 million, or 1 in 3 Pennsylvania residents, by 2030. The trend prompted the state to develop a strategic plan to address the needs of the growing population, said Kevin Hancock, project manager for the program.

“This shift requires significant changes to the commonwealth’s infrastructure and the service system to reflect the needs and preferences of this growing population and to support the older adults’ health and quality of life,” said Hancock.

The plan is a culmination of a year-long collaborative effort by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, which received input from more than 20,000 seniors, community members and caregivers at more than 200 listening tours as well as a number of stakeholders, including 29 state agencies, Pennsylvania’s network of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), the Pennsylvania AARP and local leaders.

“We built this plan with input from older adults, caregivers and a bunch of very smart and frank people who told us what they thought was needed to improve Pennsylvania’s infrastructure and service system,” said Hancock.

“We are talking about people who we know have worked hard to save and retire,” said Kavulich. “Now they need an investment in the infrastructure that will keep them from having to seek more costly service interventions.”

The plan promises to streamline and bolster the senior service system, with priorities of unlocking access, aging in community, gateways to independence, caregiver supports and education and navigation. Included in the publication unveiled Friday are strategies to improve access to long-term care, health care support, financial services, digital literacy, transportation, food and housing.

    Governor Shapiro speaks at Generations of Indian Valley about a 10-year strategic plan to improve service delivery for Pennsylvania’s seniors.
 By John Worthington | The Reporter 

“In the past, the commonwealth invested some money, but it was all scattered around state government,” said Shapiro. “Now, it’s under one roof, under one plan, and we have a clear direction on how we’re gonna deliver that help.”

Jennifer Haeussler-Barnhart, Montgomery County Office of Senior Services Administrator, said that the plan will provide a crucial lifeline to low-income seniors.

“Poverty is an issue our office grapples with daily,” said Haeussler-Barnhart. “Over 19,000 older adults are struggling to pay for basics like food and housing, let alone transportation, utilities, medical bills and other expenses. They need the safety net that Aging Our Way offers.”

Shapiro’s 2024-2025 budget proposal includes $11.7 million to implement the plan, with a $10 million funding boost for AAAs, increased funding for caregivers and a new Alzheimer’s Disease division in the Department of Aging. Shapiro said that the state’s $14 billion surplus calls for greater investments in senior services.

“Now is the time to invest,” said Shapiro. “As we see one in every three Pennsylvanians at the end of this decade be a senior, we can look them in the eye and say, ‘We did right by you’.’’

State Sen. Maria Collett and state Rep. Steve Malagari touted their firm support for the plan and urged their fellow lawmakers to approve it.

“It’s up to us in the legislature to pass a budget that shows older and disabled Pennsylvanians that they are truly valued,” said Collett. “Let’s put our money where our mouth is and get this across the finish line.”

Thursday, July 25, 2024




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