Prince George's County Supports Senior Citizens Work Program

WI Staff Report | 6/29/2011, 10:16 p.m.

CAMP SPRINGS, MD - In an effort to minimize the impact on low income seniors, the Prince George's County Department of Family Services is providing an additional $50,000 in support of the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). The SCSEP is a job and training program for older adults age 55 or older who are unemployed and meet income eligibility guidelines.

During the FY 2011 federal budget cycle, SCSEP realized a 45 percent budget cut [set for] July 1, 2011. SCSEP's funder, Senior Service America (SSA), informed the Department of Family Services Aging Services Division that due to this budget cut, the county's participant hours will be reduced by 40 percent.

"I hope others follow Prince George's example to invest in this proven program," said Tony Sarmiento, SSA executive director. "In other parts of Maryland, as well as other states, the 45 percent cut in federal funding has meant an equal cut in the number of hours that low-income seniors can be paid serving their community." Sarmiento added that in Prince George's County, seniors will be able to continue to work 16 hours per week at the minimum wage. They will be helping other older adults at senior centers throughout the county, or helping their neighbors in a variety of agencies including Habitat for Humanity, CASA of Maryland, and the Anacostia Trails Heritage Association, he said.

Prince George's County is committed to provide $50,000 in funding to supplement SCSEP. These dollars will help to minimize the impact of reduced income for some disadvantaged older adults in the community by supplementing the grant dollars so that the participants will feel less of an impact.

"Creating and finding jobs for all of our residents is a top priority of my administration," said Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker. "The Senior Community Service Employment Program is critical in assisting older unemployed adults to get training and find work. In the wake of the federal cuts to this program, it is crucial that the county minimize this impact by contributing $50,000 in supplemental funding."

The Senior Community Service Employment Program places low-income older adults, age 55 and older in community service positions that provide them with valuable training and work experience, and eventually allow them to transition to permanent employment. Through the SCSEP, older adults receive community service assignments with local nonprofits and governmental agencies that serve as host agencies. Participants gain confidence, enhance their income, learn valuable employment skills, support their communities and eventually transition to permanent employment

"Mr. Baker's decision will save money for the county and help keep low-income seniors healthy, engaged, and contributing to their community," said Sarmiento. "Senior Service America is proud to partner with the Baker administration."