Job Training and so Much More for Low-Income Older Adults: The Senior Community Service Employment Program
- 10 Downloads
An important anti-poverty program for older Americans is facing a serious problem: The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) was deemed “ineffective” by the Department of Labor. The department’s 2020 budget, in fact, proposes the program’s elimination. SCSEP, which places low-income adults aged 55 and older with multiple barriers to work in on-the-job training in nonprofit and public agencies while providing a modest stipend, has the goal of helping participants to transition into unsubsidized, gainful employment. Yet measures used to determine the program’s effectiveness focus solely on employment outcomes, ignoring important outcomes related to health and social engagement. This commentary advocates for the preservation of SCSEP by countering the view that it is purely an employment intervention for low-income older adults. We describe the complexity of the program and the people it serves and argue that using select measures that do not encompass the breadth of SCSEP’s benefits creates an inaccurate appearance of ineffectiveness. We conclude with recommendations for SCSEP administrators and grantees, social workers, and others to enhance the promise of this important program.
KeywordsSCSEP Older workers Workforce training Federal budget Policy Older Americans Act Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
The authors would like to thank Anne D. Womer for her contributions to this manuscript.
The authors declare no sources of funding for this work.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
Olga Yulikova, MA, has directed the Senior Community Service Employment Program in the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs for more than 10 years. Arguments in this manuscript represent her personal views and do not represent the official positions of her program or employer. Cal J. Halvorsen declares no conflict of interest.
- Albelda, R., & Carr, M. (2017). Combining earnings with public supports: Cliff effects in Massachusetts (Economics Faculty Publication Series No. 42). University of Massachusetts Boston. Retrieved April 1, 2019 from https://scholarworks.umb.edu/econ_faculty_pubs/42/
- Gonzales, E., Lee, K., & Harootyan, B. (2019). Voices from the field: Ecological factors that promote employment and health among low-income older adults with implications for direct social work practice. Clinical Social Work Journal. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10615-019-00719-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Johnson, L. B. (2007a, June 6). Annual message to the Congress on the state of the union. Retrieved Jan 4, 1965 from The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library website: http://www.lbjlibrary.net/collections/selected-speeches/1965/01-04-1965.html
- Johnson, L. B. (2007b, June 6). Annual message to the Congress on the state of the union. Retrieved Jan 8, 1964 from The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library website: http://www.lbjlibrary.net/collections/selected-speeches/november-1963-1964/01-08-1964.html
- Johnson, R., & Gosselin, P. (2018). How secure is employment at older ages? [Research report]. Urban Institute. Retrieved April 1, 2019 from https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/99570/how_secure_is_employment_at_older_ages_2.pdf
- Kondrat, M. E. (2013). Person-in-environment. Encyclopedia of Social Work. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199975839.013.285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- MetLife Foundation, & Civic Ventures. (2008). Pathways to encore careers: How 10 community colleges are preparing boomers for work. Retrieved March 3, 2019 from https://encore.org/wp-content/uploads/files/ECCreport%5B1%5D.pdf
- Mikelson, K. S. (2017). The role of SCSEP in workforce training for low-income older workers (p. 15) [White paper]. Urban Institute. Retrieved April 1, 2019 from https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/94371/2001575_scsep_white_paper_finalized_2.pdf
- Mikelson, K. S., Kuehn, D., & Martin-Caughey, A. (2017). Occupational projections for low-income older workers [Research report]. Urban Institute. Retrieved April 1, 2019 from https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/aarp_foundation/2017/pdfs/occupational-projections-for-low-income-older-workers.pdf
- Morrow-Howell, N., Gonzales, E., Matz-Costa, C., & Greenfield, E. A. (2015). Increasing productive engagement in later life (Working Paper No. 8). American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. Retrieved August 14, 2019 from http://grandchallengesforsocialwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/WP8-with-cover.pdf
- Office of Management and Budget. (2018). An American budget: Major savings and reforms [Fiscal Year 2019]. U.S. Government Publishing Office. Retrieved April 1, 2019 from https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/msar-fy2019.pdf
- Older Americans Act of 1965 [As amended through P.L. 114-114]. (2016). Retrieved April 5, 2019 from https://legcounsel.house.gov/Comps/Older%20Americans%20Act%20Of%201965.pdf
- Social Policy Research Associates, & Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (2012). Evaluation of the Senior Community Service Employment Program [Process and Outcomes Study Final Report]. Retrieved April 2, 2019 from https://wdr.doleta.gov/research/FullText_Documents/ETAOP_2013_03.pdf
- Toossi, M., & Torpey, E. (2017). Older workers: Labor force trends and career options. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved April 1, 2019 from https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2017/article/older-workers.htm
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. (2015, November 23). Poverty Guidelines. Retrieved April 1, 2019, from https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines
- U.S. Department of Labor. (2018). FY 2019 Department of Labor budget in brief. Retrieved April 5, 2019 from https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/general/budget/2019/FY2019BIB.pdf
- U.S. Department of Labor. (2019). Instructions for Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP): Optional Requests Program Year 2019 (Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 18–18; p. 3).Google Scholar
- U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration. (2018a). PY 2017 participant evaluation of SCSEP. Retrieved April 2, 2019 from https://www.doleta.gov/Seniors/pdf/Participant_Survey_Report/PY2017_Nationwide_Participant_Survey_Report.pdf
- U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration. (2018b, August 20). Senior Community Service Employment Program. Retrieved April 1, 2019 from https://www.doleta.gov/seniors/
- U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration. (2019). Training and employment guidance letter: Attachment 9: Senior Community Service Employment Program (No. 14–18). Retrieved April 2, 2019 from https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/corr_doc.cfm?DOCN=7611
- U.S. Government Printing Office. (1973). Older Americans Comprehensive Services Amendments of 1973 [Committee Print for the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging]. Retrieved April 5, 2019 from https://www.aging.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/reports/rpt473.pdf
- U.S. Government Printing Office. (2018). Senior Community Service Employment Program; Performance Accountability [Federal Register, Vol. 83, No. 146]. Retrieved from https://www.doleta.gov/Seniors/pdf/SCSEP_Performance_Accountability_Final_Rule_2018-16216_7_27_18.pdf