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Cuyahoga County Division of Senior and Adult Services Launches Pilot Program to Encourage Senior Center Innovation

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Donisha Greene, (216) 443-7075; dgreene@cuyahogacounty.us

Cleveland, OH - Today, Cuyahoga County’s Office of Procurement and Diversity released an RFP to solicit proposals from a network of senior center collaboratives, comprised of non-profit and/or municipal senior centers, to develop innovative service models for the delivery of senior center services. In 2016, four (4) senior center collaboratives will be selected and awarded planning grants of $25,000 each to design an innovative model to encourage collaboration more effectively, deliver services, and save money. In 2017, these four collaboratives will compete for two (2) additional grants of $50,000 each, which will be used to help implement their innovative design. The Cuyahoga County Division of Senior and Adult Services (DSAS) will monitor and provide oversight to this process.

“Today’s announcement is a great example of my goal to create a solution-driven government that is focused on moving the region forward in a bold and innovative way”, said County Executive Budish. “The needs of our seniors are changing over time and we as County Government have to provide a solid foundation for collaboration and innovation. This program will encourage collaboration more effectively, deliver services, and save money.”

“We know that baby boomers and older adults want to continue learning and remain a vital part of their communities”, said Division of Senior and Adult Services Administrator, Dr. Richard Jones. “This is an exciting step toward ensuring we provide the best aging experience and simultaneously supporting the rapidly growing senior population.”

While there is very little reliable data, the National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC) reports that an estimated network of about 11,000 senior centers serve nearly 10 million older adults nationwide. According to the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA), Ohio has a vibrant and rich network of more than 450 full and part time senior centers which offer Ohioans age 60 and older a place to go for nutritious meals, social activities, volunteer opportunities, health screenings, health and consumer education, creative arts, exercise and more. ODA reports nearly eighty (80) senior centers are located in Cuyahoga County. Of these eighty senior centers, the Cuyahoga County Division of Senior and Adult Services funds twenty-one centers.

Current data indicates an emerging thematic shift in senior needs. Most notably, workforce development has emerged as a major area of interest as a growing number of seniors now want to work beyond the traditional retirement age of 65. Moreover, seniors are requiring a robust level of social interaction centered on a myriad of interests; such as art, music and culture. Studies continue to support that social interaction reduces illness, isolation and loneliness while sustaining notable improvements in mental and physical well-being among seniors. As their consumers’ demographic changes, senior centers need to position themselves to meet those needs.

According to data compiled by the Center of Community Solutions, 31% of the County’s population by 2030 will be 60 years of age and older. This population is growing at a faster rate than the population of residents 20 years of age and younger. Likewise, according to the Center for Community Solutions, 74.3% of persons 65 and older own their own homes. From an economic perspective, keeping seniors healthier and independent longer keeps vacancy rates low while stabilizing tax revenue.

The mission of the Division of Senior and Adult Services (DSAS) is to empower seniors and adults with disabilities to age successfully by providing resources and support that preserve their independence. DSAS delivers services to seniors age 60 and above. As a result of its last strategic plan, DSAS expanded delivery of services to adults with disabilities age 18 to 59 for all programs.

To obtain a copy of the Senior Center Innovation Fund RFP, contact the Cuyahoga County Office of Procurement & Diversity at www.opd.cuyahogacounty.us or 216-443-7200.