Post submitted by HRC Law Fellow James Shygelski
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) has proposed new program guidance aimed at providing aging services and support to LGBTQ elders in communities across the country. ACL, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, announced this Program Instruction as part of their state regulations under the Older Americans Act (OAA).
The OAA is a federal statute that funds state, local and non-profit agencies that offer aging services and support for the older population- including programs such as Meals on Wheels, in-home services and community senior centers. In order to receive this funding, states are required to submit plans demonstrating how these funds will be used to serve adults with the greatest economic and social needs.
ACL’s new initiative recognizes that older LGBTQ adults are often barred from services and support in their communities due to economic hardship, stigma and blatant discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. In light of these hardships, the initiative will designate LGBTQ adults as part of the “greatest economic and social needs” population.
Under the Program Instruction, states will then be required to explain their “approaches for assessing and addressing the needs of such populations of older adults, including (but not limited to) conducting statewide environmental scans and needs assessments, ensuring broad representation on advisory committees, holding public hearings and conducting targeted outreach to ensure all populations are aware of and able to access services.”
HRC and its partners applaud ACL for taking this positive step towards ending discrimination against our older population, but recognize that there is still much more work to be done.
ACL has opened a comment period for this Program Instruction through August 22, 2016. For more information on the instruction, or to share your experiences with your local community’s aging services, please click here.