The Connecticut Department of Aging and Disability Services (ADS) will receive $10 million of federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) according to a May 30 press release from Gov. Ned Lamont’s office. The money will be used to “support upgrades and enhancements at senior centers statewide.”

Lamont and ADS Commissioner Amy Porter announced that $9 million of the allotted funds will be distributed to municipalities. Examples of eligible facility improvements under ARPA include capital improvements such as air and HVAC systems, lighting, accessibility, vehicle acquisition, and building maintenance and repurposing. Examples of programming expenditures eligible under ARPA include “the acquisition of program registration software, web design renovation capability, extended senior center hours, special or focused entertainment or programming, while also encompassing expanded staff hours to support those programs, when applicable.”

Under ARPA’s final rule, which went into effect on April 1, 2022, funding from the law’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds can be used to respond to either the COVID-19 public health emergency or its negative economic impact, to respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing “premium pay” to some workers, for the provision of government services that saw reduced revenue as a result of the pandemic relative to the last full fiscal year prior to the public health emergency, or to make necessary water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure investments.

According to ADS, for eligibility purposes, senior centers are defined as “those that provide multiple services including the core services of information, referral, and assistance.” Other potentially eligible services could also include nutrition, wellness, education, and social and recreational activities.

ADS first sent out a letter alerting municipal leaders to the funding opportunity on February 10, 2023, which noted that the department spent several months researching the eligible uses of that funding.

The letter also explained how the funding would be broken down. Allocations made from the $9 million in funding reserved for senior centers, broken down by municipalities, contain two parts: the base allocation and a formulaic allocation. All municipalities will receive a base allocation of $5,000 according to the letter.

“The remainder of the allocation is calculated using Census data on town demographics, including share of the population aged 60 and older, race/ethnicity status, disability status, poverty status and whether the town is in a rural location.” the letter continued.

The letter further notified municipalities that the department would be sending out an electronic “Beneficiaries Information Form” that would collect information on how senior centers anticipating using ARPA funds.

That form was sent to municipalities in a follow-up letter sent by ADS on April 17. Municipalities have through June 2024 to submit a plan to ADS’ Unit on Aging for review and possible approval.

Of the remaining $1 million in funding, $750,000 has been reserved for statewide senior center activities. According to ADS, activities could include “improving online services for senior centers, supporting senior center events, and developing media campaigns that promote engagement at senior centers.”

The remaining $250,000 has been reserved for administrative purposes in support of the project.

The $10 million allocation is not the only funding ADS received from ARPA. It also received $873,000 worth of ARPA funds from the state in 2021 to support family caregivers. According to a presentation from the department’s Unit on Aging dated March 14, 2023, those funds were used to augment existing state support for staff at adult day centers, provide new outreach through the CT Caregiver Respite Outreach Program, and provide $5000,000 in additional funding to the existing CT Statewide Respite Care Program.

The same public act that provided the $10 million in ARPA funding for senior centers also provided additional funding for ADS, including $3 million in funding for Meals on Wheels, $4 million in funding for Areas Agencies on Aging, $1 million in respite care for Alzheimer’s, and $100,000 each to five senior centers in Avon, New Haven, Bridgeport, Orange, and Torrington.

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An advocate for transparency and accountability, Katherine has over a decade of experience covering government. She has degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Maine and her...

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