Local Area Agencies Help the Aging but Problems Need Correcting

HRD-77-82: Published: Aug 2, 1977. Publicly Released: Aug 2, 1977.

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State agencies on aging allocate funds to local organizations they designate as "area agencies on aging," which coordinate existing services and pool available but untapped resources to either improve existing services for older Americans or implement new ones. Social services may also be funded.

Although most area agencies had not been operating 1 full year at the time of GAO's study, they were pooling and coordinating services as required. However, many problems in implementing the program were identified by Federal, State, and local officials. These included: funding levels were too low to properly implement and administer the program; the size and/or qualifications of staffs were inadequate; the clarity, reasonableness, consistency, or timing of some policies issued by the State agencies on aging or the Administration on Aging were unsatisfactory; adapting from former programs to the area agency concept created problems; the current division of duties among State and area agencies and service providers does not apply to all situations; almost 20 percent of the area agencies were not meeting the regulation to serve poor and minority elderly people in proportion to their relative numbers; and the State agencies did not provide enough services and guidance.

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