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Don’t cut senior services funding

SCV Senior Center head appeals to Assemblyman

Posted: June 26, 2009 1:00 p.m.
Updated: June 26, 2009 1:26 p.m.
Editor's note: The following is text of a letter sent June 12 to Assemblyman Cameron Smyth by Brad Berens, executive director of the Santa Clarita Valley Committee on Aging:

Dear Cameron,

There is no denying that these are extraordinary and difficult times for our great State of California. Speaking for our organization's 8,500 constituencies of elderly participants, we take great solace in the fact that you and your leadership are there in Sacramento to ensure the best possible outcomes for some very difficult decisions.

As you know, some of the cost cutting measures being proposed by the Governor and his proponents include decimating programs that have historically and literally saved thousands of lives of our most vulnerable elderly.

Specifically, I'm speaking of the proposed elimination of funding for the Community-Based Services Programs stemming from the Department of Aging. These programs include Linkages, Respite Purchase of Services, Alzheimer's Day Care Resource Centers, the Senior Companion Program, Brown Bag, Caregiver Resource Center, Adult Day Health Care, and the Multipurpose Senior Services Program.

I can tell you unequivocally that the Linkages, Respite Purchase of Service, Alzheimer's Day Care Resource Center, Adult Day Health Care and the Multipurpose Senior Services Program are imperative to the community you call home. These programs alone benefit 600 to 800 of our most vulnerable elders in our community each and every year.

The other services are equally important to other communities as maximum service delivery and cost efficiencies are built and designed around individual community resources. You may find it interesting that about a third of our states elderly reside in Los Angeles City and County. In our case alone, we would lose $91,093.00 in annual funding and this elimination would directly or indirectly affect about 50 percent of our program participants.

The cost-benefit value of these services, over and above the quality of life issues, is giving new meaning to the proverbial "throwing the baby out with the bath water".

Bringing the issues close to home here in your hometown and state-wide is the assurance that these short-sighted cuts in funding for expediency will cost the state much more money by pushing the frail and infirm into nursing homes. This is the immediate effect; and, at a time when our aging population is increasingly entering the stage of advanced elder-hood, the fiscal ramifications to the State of California will expand exponentially each subsequent year.

In the case of the Santa Clarita Valley, most of the frail elderly will be pushed out of the community they call home because of the unavailability of adequate nursing facilities. So, in essence, the ramifications to the Governor's proposal and those in league with his ideas regarding the elimination of these vital services for the frail and at-risk elderly is: increased burdens on the State's resources that will far out weigh the perception of expediency, tear families apart, and quite literally be an earlier end to our elders life journey.

It does not take too much vision to understand that these programs should be left entirely in tact to save money. These programs left in tact without augmentation in the few short years ahead allows Community-Based Organizations like the Santa Clarita Valley Committee on Aging to do what they do best. That is to continuing doing more for the quality of life for our elders, despite the "age wave of need" with less and less resources.

We'll deal with the current inadequacy of present funding now, and for the foreseeable future, while you provide the leadership in Sacramento to secure our State's future without sentencing the most vulnerable among us and their families to certain diminished lives of not so quiet desperation.

Brad Berens, Executive Director
Santa Clarita Valley Committee on Aging


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