WILMINGTON — A drop this year in federal funds going to recreational programming for Clinton County seniors is due to an outdated level of funding and a shift in federal and state priorities, said the Council on Aging (COA) of Southwestern Ohio.
COA of Southwestern Ohio administers Older Americans Act Title III funding for Clinton County.
Ken Wilson, vice president of program operations for the COA of Southwestern Ohio and Suzanne Burke, president of the COA of Southwestern Ohio, visited Clinton County commissioners recently to give an update. They focused on the federal Older Americans Act funding and the Clinton County Elderly Services Program.
According to a COA of Southwestern Ohio media release, Title III funding has, in effect, been shrinking for decades because of no increases to account for inflation or the aging of the population.
“For 2016, the [Clinton County] senior center will experience a decrease in funding for recreation, and an increase for transportation and supportive services (helping seniors with financial and insurance paperwork),” the media release stated.
This year, $29,690 is available here for recreational programming funded through Title III, whereas last year the amount was $53,335, according to a PowerPoint printout distributed at the appointment with commissioners. Funds for recreation will be phased out over time, added the printout.
The media release added, “Federal funding for senior centers is shifting away from traditional recreation activities like games, exercise classes and crafts in favor of higher priority services such as transportation and health education. At the same time, the state wants a larger percentage of the available funding to be dedicated to evidence-based programs for health and wellness.”
Wilson in the release stated, “In a time of tight funding, we have to base priorities on the most pressing community needs.”
At the meeting with commissioners, Burke said some of the funding had been used “for purely recreation like playing cards and the state is saying, ‘No, we want that funding to go towards maybe like chronic disease self-management programs, or other evidence-based wellness programs and away from [a] purely recreational program’.”
Dean Feldmeyer, a candidate for a county commissioners seat this fall, attended the meeting. He asked how the COA defined the word “recreation”.
Wilson said it includes programs and activities that involve socialization. Feldmeyer asked whether exercise would be part of the definition, and Wilson said, “It can, yes.”
After Burke mentioned chair volleyball type programs as an example, Feldmeyer said, “It’s not just playing cards,” and Burke replied, “No; that [playing cards] is included in there as well though.”
Altogether, Clinton County will receive $265,550 in federal Older American Act funding in 2016 to supplement the levy program and provide services at the senior center in Wilmington, the media release stated.
About half of the $265,550 will go to the levy-funded Elderly Services Program, and nearly half will go to the Wilmington Savings Bank | Clinton County Senior Center, which is operated by Clinton County Community Action Program Inc. A small portion will go to Clinton County Adult Day Services and to a provider of respite services for caregivers.
The Clinton County Elderly Services Program received increased Title III funding for caregiver respite and home-delivered meals. This included a 6.5-percent rate increase to Clinton County Community Action Program for home-delivered meals which are available to eligible seniors on the levy program, stated the release.
COA allocates Title III funds to the Clinton County Elderly Services Program, thereby freeing local levy dollars to serve more seniors, according to the printout.
This year, $131,000 in federal Title III funding was awarded to Clinton County Community Action, compared to $141,267 last year.
COA of Southwestern Ohio is a nonprofit organization. It is a state-designated Area Agency on Aging, serving a 21-county region.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.