Employment and Training Administration
Washington, D. C. 20210


Older Americans Act




April 24, 2001





FROM :   Wendy L. McConnell for
Deputy Assistant Secretary
SUBJECT : Implementing the Older Americans Act Amendments of 2000


  1. Purpose. To announce the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA), to provide materials related to the new law, and to identify specific provisions of the law that affect State and Local Workforce Investment Boards and Local One-Stop delivery systems.

  2. References. Older Americans Act Amendments of 2000; Federal Register Notice, published March 19, 2001, pp. 15596-15603; The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) and its implementing regulations at 20 CFR 660.

  3. Background. The Older Americans Act Amendments of 2000 were signed into law on November 13, 2000, to prepare federal programs for an expected increase in the number of seniors who will need services as the Baby Boom generation ages. These amendments include changes to the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) which is authorized under title V of the Older Americans Act to provide subsidized, part-time community service employment to low-income persons age 55 and over. The OAA Amendments formally recognize unsubsidized employment as a program goal while maintaining the community service nature of the program. By moving able participants into unsubsidized employment, SCSEP can increase the number of eligible individuals who can be served under the program. Other major areas of change to title V include stronger linkages with the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA); an annual State Senior Employment Services Coordination Plan; performance measures; and corrective actions for grantees that fail to meet the performance measures.

    The SCSEP benefits not only those who participate in the program, but also the communities in which they work. Annually about 100,000 SCSEP participants work in a wide variety of community service jobs, including nurse's aides, teachers' aides, librarians, clerical workers and day care assistants. The Department of Labor allocates funds to operate the SCSEP to the governors of each State, who generally give the funds to the State agencies on aging, and to 10 national organizations. SCSEP grantees are represented on business-led State and Local Workforce Investment Boards that were established under WIA to provide strategic planning and oversight of workforce development activities.

    The OAA Amendments became effective upon enactment. However, the implementation of some provisions will be phased-in over time. The Department will issue further guidance and regulations regarding these requirements in the summer of 2001.

  4. SCSEP AND WIA. The OAA Amendments strengthen connections between SCSEP and WIA. For example, the OAA Amendments provide parallel language reiterating the WIA requirement that SCSEP grantees be included as mandatory One-Stop partners. The full integration of SCSEP into the One-Stop System, with other partner agencies, will ensure that older Americans have full access to all the services accessible through the One-Stop system. Improved integration will also minimize duplication of services and will position the One-Stop system to better serve this expanding targeted population, without regard to whether participants meet the eligibility requirements for SCSEP.

    SCSEP program staff know how to market older workers to employers because they know what the population has to offer. They are also aware of local supportive services available to older workers through the "Aging Network," such as housing assistance, health care, or adult day care; and of the training opportunities in which seniors are often successful, as well as how older workers learn best compared to their younger peers. SCSEP program staff can also provide knowledge, information and materials about the expected demographic shifts in the workforce. On request, technical assistance and training may be available on such topics. Please call the Division of Older Worker Programs at (202) 693-3742 for more information.

  5. State Plan. Under the OAA Amendments, each Governor must develop an annual Senior Employment Services Coordination Plan to ensure greater coordination of SCSEP activities within a State among State and program resources, including the services provided by the One-Stop delivery system. The lead agency developing the plan must obtain the advice and recommendations of State and Local Workforce Investment Boards when developing the State Plan. State Plans must identify the distribution and characteristics of eligible individuals within the State, their employment situations and types of skills, the locations and populations for which community service projects are most needed, and plans for coordinating SCSEP grantee activities in the State with other workforce investment activities. The Governor generally delegates responsibility for developing the plan to the State SCSEP grantee. The plan is to be submitted to the Secretary of Labor by the Governor or his/her designee. The first plans will be required in June 2001. The Department issued guidance on plan development on February 2, 2001.

  6. Coordination of SCSEP Grantees. Some local areas may be served by multiple grantees, with State or national program sponsors, or projects funded under OAA Section 502(e) to place individuals in unsubsidized private sector employment. The OAA Amendments provide that multiple SCSEP grantees in an area should coordinate their activities through the One-Stop delivery system. For example, multiple grantees may have a representative at the One-Stop Center to refer eligible participants to all SCSEP programs in the area, and to assist other mature job seekers who may not be SCSEP eligible. Local Boards must sign memoranda of understanding with all SCSEP sponsors operating programs in the area. Generally speaking, the WIB/One-Stop can expect that SCSEP grantees will work together to create a single umbrella Memorandum of Understanding with the Local Workforce Investment Board. While SCSEP is a community service program with limited administrative resources, SCSEP grantees are often able to place community service participants as staff support at One-Stop centers as a method of sharing costs.

  7. Involvement with State and Local Workforce Investment Boards.  Under the Workforce Investment Act, SCSEP grantees must be represented on all State and Local Workforce Investment Boards, including the State Boards in States with a single statewide Workforce Investment Area.

  8. Participant Eligibility for Training. Under the Job Training Partnership Act all SCSEP participants were "automatically" eligible for training and other intensive services. The OAA Amendments instead authorize Local Workforce Investment Boards to make the decision to deem SCSEP participants automatically eligible for intensive and training services. The eligibility of SCSEP participants for intensive and training services is one of the issues that may be addressed in the memorandum of understanding between the Local Workforce Investment Board and the local SCSEP sponsors.

  9. Assessment. One important component of a seamless system is a participant assessment that meets the needs of all potential workforce investment programs in the area. The OAA Amendments require that service strategies or participant assessments of skills, interests, and circumstances provided under WIA should be accepted by SCSEP programs, and vice versa. One-Stop Centers and SCSEP grantees may want to work together to devise service strategies and participant assessments that contain similar information and are mutually compatible.

  10. Unsubsidized Placements. As with other programs for adults under the Workforce Investment Act, unsubsidized employment is a goal of SCSEP. Under the OAA Amendments, SCSEP grantees must meet an unsubsidized placement rate of at least 20 percent, with adjustments possible only with respect to certain factors, such as high rates of unemployment, or significant downturns in the economy. It is important to note that the OAA Amendments define "unsubsidized employment" for placement purposes to include both full- and part-time employment.

  11. Comments on the OAA Amendments. The Department published a notice in the March 19, 2001 Federal Register, requesting comments on the approach it should take in implementing the changes to the SCSEP occasioned by the OAA amendments. This notice includes a summary of the changes and a side-by-side comparison with the existing legislation. The Department anticipates distributing a bound copy of this summary in the near future. In addition, the Department has scheduled several Town Hall Meetings to identify issues to be addressed in the implementation of the regulations, and to obtain the benefit of practitioners' concerns and experiences in the operation of the SCSEP. The Department has held Town Hall Meetings in Atlanta, Georgia; Washington, D.C.; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Pasadena, California. The final Town Hall Meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 15, 2001, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in Kansas City, Missouri in conjunction with the 2001 Heartland Conference. Details of all Town Hall meetings will be posted on the Older Worker website at: www.wdsc.doleta.gov/seniors.

  12. Inquiries. Questions on the OAA amendments should be directed to Mr. Erich W. ("Ric") Larisch of the Division of Older Worker Programs at (202) 693-3742 or E-mail: LARISCHE@DOLETA.GOV

  13. Attachment. Title V of the Older Americans Act Amendments of 2000