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Ocean County senior programs to get added funds to increase services

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From home delivered meals to caregiver support for seniors, Ocean County will earmark federal and state funds to help maintain and increase these services.

“With more than 200,000 seniors living in Ocean County, the need for services clearly exists and is growing for this population,” said Ocean County Commissioner Joseph H. Vicari, chairman of the Office of Senior Services. “This funding will help bolster some of the programs that are in place that help to keep our seniors living independently.”

Vicari was joined by Maria LaFace, director of the Ocean County Office of Senior Services during the Sept. 28 Ocean County Board of County Commissioners’ preboard meeting to review how almost $1.4 million will be broken down to support current programs for the aging in Ocean County, according to a press release from the county.

“We submitted a work plan to the state several months ago providing details on how we anticipate spending the funds to meet priority needs identified post-COVID,” LaFace said. “Since then we have been working with our advisory council and providers in preparation for distribution of the funds.”

Ocean County anticipates using $442,296 for community support services, $231,553 for congregate nutrition, $440,124 for home delivered meals, $42,077 for preventive health and $135,168 for caregiver support, according to the press release.

“Each of these areas is critical in allowing our seniors to remain independent,” Vicari said. “We already support these programs for our seniors. This funding will help us maintain and increase the services.”

For instance, Vicari noted that Ocean County, through its Area Plan Contract with Community Services Inc. delivers more than 1,000 home delivered meals daily to
seniors living in Ocean County.

“Recipients are frail, vulnerable and homebound,” Vicari said. “Additional funding can  ensure our seniors do not go hungry. This program serves as a lifeline for many of our elderly as they are not only delivered a daily meal, but they have the security of knowing someone will be checking up on them every day as a result of that delivery.”

Ocean County Board of County Commissioners Deputy Director Virginia E. Haines noted that as the population ages in Ocean County, there is a greater need for services.

“Our Office of Senior Services, with Commissioner Vicari, shows compassion and concern for our seniors in Ocean County,” Haines said. “They work diligently to make sure our seniors are provided with the assistance they need.”

She added that inflation also has an effect on Ocean County’s programs, experiencing the same increases as the residents.

“This funding may help allay some of those increases so we can maintain our levels of service,” she said.

LaFace noted that the needs identified post-COVID include housing and home repair, food instability, the need for home health aides, transportation, care management and caregiver assistance programs.

LaFace said the money is coming from the American Rescue Plan Title III funding, which is money set aside just for aging senior programs, according to the press release.

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