Pennsylvania is in the earliest stages of devising a long-term approach to ensuring quality care for aging and disabled Pennsylvanians. The conferences and focus group sessions that need to precede such strategic plans have begun.
Brian Duke, Secretary of the Department of Aging, said he's not looking to boost the available state funding. "The idea of a lot of additional funding flowing out probably is not a reality we'll see in the near term. But we do want to see the plan create opportunities engage other sources of funding or resource in the community."
Federal law requires that the plan be in place by July of 2012. In the meantime, Duke is looking for ways to include philanthropic partners and alternative sources of revenue for programs.
It's a Big Job
The state plan will be the product of collaboration between its 52 local agencies for older Pennsylvanians. "You know, it's predicted by 2020, one in four people will be over the age of 65. We know there's also a growing number of persons living with disabilities in the commonwealth. As we see that growing demand, we also know there's a challenge of finite resources," said Duke.
Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick believes the biggest challenge facing senior services at the county level is money. He's long been calling for the state to devote more from its lottery fund to those efforts.
"We're quite disappointed that the state continues to sit on a $150 million lottery fund reserve that could certainly be used by the state Department of Aging and every agency on aging across the commonwealth to be able to meet the needs of our growing senior population," said Hartwick.
Hartwick notes that the state's Lottery Fund was established to serve older Pennsylvanians.