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Hearing of the Subcommittee on Retirement Security and Aging on the Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act

Location: Washington, DC

Hearing of the Subcommittee on Retirement Security and Aging on the Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act


Good afternoon and welcome to the Subcommittee on Retirement Security and Aging's hearing on the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act. Today, we will be focusing on Title V of the Older Americans Act -- the Senior Community Service Employment Program or SCSEP.

I thank Senator Mikulski, the Subcommittee's Ranking Member, for her interest in these issues and for being here today. As many of you remember, during the reauthorization process in 2000, we were the Chair and Ranking Member, as well, and I look forward to working with her on the Older Americans Act once again.

Just over a month ago, we had many of the same people who are in this room now give their remarks on reauthorization at a roundtable on the Older Americans Act. Since that time, we have received the recommendations for reauthorization from both the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services. I look forward to working with you all on your recommendations as we move toward reauthorization of this important piece of legislation.

As you know, older Americans are a vital and rapidly growing segment of our population. Over 36 million people living in the United States are over the age of 65, accounting for about 12 percent of the population. The Census Bureau projects that 45 years from now, people 65 and older will number nearly 90 million in the United States and comprise 21 percent of the population. Further, we know that 4.6 million people aged 65 and older are still employed.

The Older Americans Act is an important service provider for these Americans. The SCSEP program is the only one in the Act administered by the Department of Labor. It is designed to employ older Americans and supplement their income, while providing their communities with needed services.

This program is working well. However, that is not to say that it cannot be improved. We need to seriously consider the new generation of older Americans and what new and different job opportunities they may want in the future.

This afternoon, we will hear from the Department of Labor on their recommendations for the reauthorization of Title V. We also will hear from three organizations that provide Title V services.

I look forward to the testimony today. I expect that we will hear both what does and does not work in Title V. As the population continues to age in America, we must view this program through new eyes to ensure that it is providing the services necessary to support the demands of tomorrow.

As I have mentioned before, the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act is the top priority of this Subcommittee. I welcome the opportunity to work with the witnesses here today and with my colleagues here in Senate to reauthorize a program that meets the needs of today's and tomorrow's older Americans.

We have two panels today. The first panelist will be Mason Bishop, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training at the Department of Labor. In his position, he is responsible for overseeing key workforce investment programs, as well as developing and implementing workforce policies and priorities.

Mr. Bishop is accompanied today by John Beverly, who is currently the Administrator of the Office of National Programs. In this role, Mr. Beverly provides direction to the program offices for Foreign Labor Certification, Seasonal Farm Workers, Older Workers, Native Americans, and Disability and Workforce Programs. Mr. Bishop will be providing the timed testimony and Mr. Beverly will be available for any technical questions that we have. Mr. Beverly thank you for making yourself available.

Mr. Bishop, I look forward to your testimony and to working with you and Assistant Secretary DeRocco on the reauthorization of Title V.

For our second panel, we have three representatives from Title V grantees. These are the people who implement the legislation that we write. I appreciate that you have joined us here today.

First, we have Ignacio Salazar, President and CEO of SER Jobs for Progress National, Inc. Mr. Salazar has been with SER for a number of years. In 1975, he was selected to head SER Metro-Detroit and in 2002 was selected to lead SER nationally. He also has served as an Assistant Director of Admissions and Scholarship at the University of Michigan Graduate School of Social Work.

Next, I would like to introduce Kent Kahn from Ohio. He is the Regional Communications Specialist for Experience Works. He has been a great asset to older workers in Ohio. He worked with my office closely last reauthorization, and I look forward to working with him again. Under his leadership, the Experience Works program in Ohio has developed into one of the best in our Nation.

Also joining us is Tony Sarmiento, President and Executive Director for Senior Service America, Inc. For over 30 years, his career in workforce and community development has included senior positions with the national AFL-CIO, the District of Columbia Department of Labor, and local community-based organizations. He serves on the board of directors of the American Society on Aging, SeniorNet, and the American Youth Policy Forum, and chairs the American Council on Education's GED Testing Service Advisory Committee.

Thank you all for being here today.

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