Guide focuses on diversity in services for the aging

This is a guest post by independent journalist Eileen Beal, that she wrote at my invitation.

Don’t let the title deter you from ordering or downloading a copy of “A Toolkit for Serving Diverse Communities.”

The easy-to-read guide, by the Administration on Aging (AoA), does two things: it outlines the challenges agencies and organizations providing community services face as the elderly population grows and becomes more diverse and it gives you excellent backgrounding on the Aging Services Network. 

This network headed by AoA (a division of the HHS) includes:

  • 56 State Units (departments) on Aging (the “state” thing is a misnomer, since this arm of the network includes U.S. territories, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia)
  • 655 Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), which are funded through AoA and State Units; coordinate services and programs in their planning and service “area;” and are often the major funder for the agencies and organizations that provide services (such as meals-on-wheels, adult day care programs, the meals and exercise programs at senior centers, etc.)
  • 238 tribal and native Hawaiian organizations (representing 302 groups), which do the same thing as AAAs
  • more than 28,000 service providers/organizations that actually do the hands-on delivery of services and programs mentioned above (For more information, see item 1 below.)

The guide is in two parts. Part I gives you a good understanding of how social service agencies are organized and the staff/organizational culture, client, and funding challenges agencies and programs are facing. Part II is appendices. All are interesting, but you’ll get the most bang for your reading buck from:

  • Appendices A and E explain how programs are planned, designed and implemented
  • Appendix D has excellent “what would you do” scenarios that will help you frame questions when you are doing interviews
  • Appendix E has good lists of factors influencing culture and ethnicity
  • Appendix G provides an excellent list of on-line resources current data and diverse populations

To order a copy of the guide, call Evelyn at 202-619-0724 or you can download it.

Related resources

  1. National Association of State Units on Aging
  2. National Council on Aging (publications) and National Council on Aging (policy)

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