Local governments and rural communities across the nation often face similar challenges. These can include in-migration, services, partnership possibilities, and business opportunities. Understanding solutions being implemented within other Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) can help save time, energy and expenditures in local planning. For rural communities in particular, one resource to consider is the 12 AAA state area plans submitted to the Iowa Department on Aging. Each AAA is required to submit a yearly update to its strategic area plan, in order to meet federal and state funding requirements.
The Iowa AAA regional strategic area plans include compliance documentation, as well as insights into what makes each of the twelve AAA’s unique. Each AAA offers services or programs to meet the goals regulated under the Older Americans Act. However, not every area’s challenges are best met by those goals. In fact, some plans ignore certain goals specified in the Older Americans Act simply because those goals are not relevant or do not address local needs.
As a state, Iowa faces the challenges of a rural, homogenous area dealing with in-migration, poverty, livability, transportation and aging in place. New initiatives, such as programs that “help with chores, meals at senior or community centers, and advice on government-related programs,” are relevant for other rural communities nationwide. As seen elsewhere in the country, Iowa is placing more emphasis and support behind “evidence-based services,” and counties championing those services can be a resource for other local governments considering the same.
Plans include information like:
- Regional descriptions of the areas served by the local AAA, including number of counties, population segments, and demographic breakdowns.
- Partnership activities as they relate to new grants, initiatives and local business partnerships.
- Programs within Heritage, Hawkeye and Generations AAAs have tremendous impact on ethnic minorities (African American, Vietnamese refugees, and American Indians in particular). Generations AAA even employs an on-site Vietnamese translator. Though these minorities make up a small percentage of the population, investing in those programs has a big impact within the state as a whole. Knowing how and why these counties are spending limited resources on a small percentage of the community can be helpful for counties elsewhere dealing with small population segments.
How to Use
By reviewing several of the Iowa AAA county plans, local governments and community planners can gain insights into how organizations with the same mandate to support area seniors take different approaches based on community needs. Make sure you tap into best practices in similar localities in other states before inventing a new approach in your own. Perhaps it’s been done before, and done well.
View Iowa Area Agencies on Aging 2010-13 plans by region: