The State of California has made substantial budget cuts in order to resuscitate its flagging economy. Those cuts impacted California Area Agencies on Aging plans, including this plan by the County of Kern Department of Aging and Adult Services. In order to reflect community-based service program (CBSP) cuts, the County of Kern updated its 2009-2011 three-year plan. Doing so also allowed Kern County community planners an opportunity to indicate progress on all parts of its ongoing strategy.
With a rapidly increasing older population, Kern County can ill-afford to decrease funding for related programs. State budget cuts eliminated programs such as the Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Kern County (ADAKC) which provides services like Adult Day Care; Community Action Partnership of Kern (CAPK) programs that recruit and train volunteers in food distribution; and Linkages programs that help serve ethnic minorities.
Other plan highlights include:
- Choosing to view changes to funding as opportunities for reassessing services, the County of Kern Area Agency on Aging (AAA) consolidated and continued several ongoing programs. Moreover, it reported the completion of programs in marketing development, telephone support for caregivers in rural areas, funding solutions and “single point of entry” call center.
- The plan illustrates the impact of a relentless focus on goals. The County of Kern AAA has four stated goals: 1) the development of partnerships to provide a community safety net of services, 2) a concentration on socialization, volunteerism, safety, nutrition and health as a means of bolstering the health of its older population, 3) improve quality of life, and 4) strengthen infrastructure. One example of this focus is when budget cuts meant AAA could not provide on-site instructors for Baby Boomers to acquire new software skills, it found alternative solutions by utilizing computer-based training (page 28). Another example is that instead of using “Vials of Life” (a solution in the original strategy), it looked for an inexpensive solution renamed “Files of Life”, which provide “first responders with medical information and medication a person is taking posted on the refrigerator door via magnetic card sleeve” (page 29).
How to Use
The County of Kern AAA plan reflects mid-stream strategic adjustment in community planning at its best. Though the County of Kern could not control budget cuts, it remained focused by finding alternative solutions to solve the same problems, consolidating services where necessary, and fostering partnerships where it could. The commitment of the plan in finding ways to meet its stated goals remains unaltered. Community planners can learn from the regional plan’s response to unforeseen cuts in funding.