When you read this article, it’s likely that the DC Council will have voted on the city’s final budget for FY 2012. At press time, the final outcome was not known, but the aging community was cautiously optimistic about funds for aging services.
When DC Mayor Vincent Gray proposed his budget on April 1, there were no significant cuts to funding for aging services. That news gave AARP District of Columbia and other members of the Senior Advisory Coalition reason to celebrate.
See Also: Grandparent Caregivers Describe Pain of Cuts to Subsidy
Mayor Vincent Gray had ordered every District agency to identify cost savings, cost reductions, and revenue opportunities to help close a projected budget gap of $322 million. To protect funds for aging services from budget cuts, AARP’s District of Columbia State Office worked with other organizations to coordinate a campaign. Senior Advisory Coalition constituents, including AARP DC members, placed over 300 phone calls and sent 500 emails to the mayors’ office saying that already stretched funding for services to older adults should not be cut.
AARP DC recruited grandparents to testify before the DC Council Committee on Human Services Roundtable about the impact that the previous $1.78 million cut to the Grandparent Caregiver Program’s subsidies had on their families. Mary Rogers, whose grandson has severe ADHD, said her grandparent care giving subsidy was cut to $29 per month when the cuts went into effect. James McSpadden told the Roundtable chair that it costs $46,000 a year for a child to live in foster care, and only $9,000 a year to subsidize the expenses of a child living with a grandparent. All witnesses asked that the grandparent caregiver program be exempted from further cuts in 2012.
Jan May, Executive Director of the AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly; Lynne Person, director of the DC Long Term Care Ombudsman Program; and AARP Advocacy Team member Parasade Mayfield testified for preserving the Mayor’s budget before the Committee on Aging and Community Affairs.
In its first votes on the mayor’s budget, the Council maintained funding for the DC Office on Aging and actually added money to the Grandparent Caregiver Program to move families from the waiting list. The DC Council will have its final vote on the FY 2012 budget on June 14, 2011.
Make your voice heard. Contact your DC Councilmember and and thank him or her for preserving funding for aging services.