Ocean County Press Release
FREEHOLDER VICARI CONTINUES BATTLE TO RESTORE
STATE SENIOR CITIZEN PROGRAM CUTS
FOLLOWING UP on a Board of Chosen Freeholders resolution unanimously passed earlier this month, Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari today sent a personal letter to Gov. Phil Murphy urging him to restore devastating cuts to state-funded senior programs.
"As Chairman of the Office of Senior Services, I felt it was important to convey a personal message that these cuts will drastically impact our older adults," Vicari said.
Vicari said the state is cutting two programs that help keep seniors living independently - Jersey Assistance for Community Caregiving (JACC) and home health aide services provided by Visiting Home Care Service of Ocean County.
According to Maria LaFace, Director of the Ocean County Office of Senior Services, JACC is a state funded program that provides a broad array of in-home services to enable an individual at risk of placement in a nursing facility and who meets the income requirement, to remain in their community home.
The county would lose $249,538 in 2020 JACC funding under the new state plan.
Also facing state funding cutbacks is Visiting Home Care Services of Ocean County, one of the County's long standing providers offering home health aide services and adult day care services. They have been providing these services for 40 years using Title 20 funding through the state Division of Disability Services.
"We just received notice that this funding will end as of June 30, 2020 and the provider stands to lose $460,000.00," Vicari said.
On average Visiting Home Care Services (VHS) has been providing approximately 300 hours a week of home health aide services under Title 20 grant funds.
"This translates to 15,600 hours of home care a year that will not be provided or 50 clients a week will go without help," Vicari said. "This is unacceptable."
In the letter to Murphy, Vicari said Ocean County is home to more than 173,000 senior citizens, including a growing population of individuals age 85 and older.
"As the Freeholder in charge of the Ocean County Office of Senior Services, I am committed to ensuring that our senior citizens remain in their homes living independently and safely with the dignity and respect they deserve," Vicari said in the letter.
Vicari said these severe cuts will have "disastrous consequences" on the quality of life for thousands of older adults living in Ocean County.
"I strongly urge the State reconsider these cuts and fully restore funding to these vital programs. At a time when funding to such important programs should be increased, substantial reductions like this will adversely impact the long-term welfare of our seniors and should be avoided at all costs," Vicari said in the letter.
On December 4 the Freeholders unanimously agreed to send a resolution to the governor asking that these cuts be reinstated.
Vicari said these cuts, along with a recent insufficient hike in the Social Security cost of living increase, are taking an unfair financial toll on the county's senior citizen population.
"The state and federal governments cannot balance their budgets on the backs of our seniors," Vicari said. "It has to stop."