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Congress Proposing a Cut in Senior Training Program

us-dept-of-laborAs I’ve explored the community resources available for mature workers a program titled SCSEP (Senior Community Service Employment Program) has been pointed to as an example of the Federal Commitment to older workers.

Funded by the Older Americans Act, SCSEP provides subsidized, service-based training for low-income persons aged 55+ who are unemployed and have poor employment prospects. The nation’s oldest program to help this population find work, SCSEP matches eligible older adults with part-time jobs for community service organizations. Participants build skills and self-confidence, while earning a modest income. For most, their SCSEP experience leads to permanent employment.

SCSEP funding has not kept pace with the growing numbers or needs of older adults. Last year, over 67,000 seniors participated in SCSEP, but that represents less than 1% of those who are eligible.  From personal conversations with MN attempting to access the program, it’s difficult to do so.

Congress recently proposed cutting the program funding by $34.3 million or 8%. This could result in fewer seniors served or decreased income due to fewer working hours.

I don’t understand why this action is considered appropriate, at a time when demographic trends project much larger numbers of older adults and, older adults in need of paying work.  Considering the alarming reports of the lack of savings among older adults, I think it’s reasonable to expect we may have more older adults needing help retaining employment. SCSEP, in its way, has helped older workers remain in the work force, an outcome with far-reaching impact.

The House Appropriations Committee is considering the bill now. Consider contacting your senator or house representative and letting them know your opinion. If you don’t have their information handy, you can find their email, phone or fax number here at Contacting the Congress.

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