Monday, May 24, 2004

Elderly program seeks funds

More than 460 Butler County residents on waiting list for care

By Jon Gambrell
Enquirer contributor

HAMILTON - With a growing waiting list and more seniors qualifying for care, the Butler County Elderly Services Program says it faces a budget crunch if new funding is not found.

The program, for seniors who might otherwise be forced into nursing homes, cares for more than 2,700county residents. Offering home care, a daily delivered meal and other services, the Elderly Services Program's waiting list is growing while funding remains mostly static.

"You can only squeeze a turnip so much," said Bob Logan, CEO of the Cincinnati-based Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio, which oversees the program in Butler, Hamilton, Warren and Clinton counties and three other counties."We need to create new funding sources."

The Butler County Elderly Services Program, open to those older than 60 with decreased mobility, was created in 1996. With an average client age of about 80, most participants are severely disabled and live alone.

With fewer clients coming out of the program, the wait to enter fluctuates between six months and a year. More than 460 people are now on the program's waiting list.

Garnering roughly $8 million from a county renewable levy, support funding has waned from federal and state grants over the past few years. With only 20 percent of the program's clients co-paying into the program, officials are looking at budget cuts, changing eligibility requirements or a possible yearly service fee to increase revenue.

Arlene de Silva, chief operating officer for the Council on Aging, stressed that changes would not be immediate. While costs per program client have dropped, the increasing demand for their support was "staggering."

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