Equity Plan Neglects Older Adults

Below is a copy of AAI Steering Committee member Teri Dowling’s comments to the Board of Supervisors on February 12.

Supervisors, my name is Teri Dowling and I’m speaking on behalf of myself as an older person living in Marin County. While I do serve on the Marin Commission on Aging and sit on the Aging Action Initiative Steering Committee, the comments I am making today are mine alone.

I want to start by saying that I very much appreciate the work and care of so many people that went into the development of the Health and Human Services Strategic Plan. A focus on racial equity is an extremely important, timely, and cross-cutting goal for this county.  

However, I was surprised that there was so little, if any, mention in the Strategic Plan of older people of color, whereas other age groups such as children and youth are specifically mentioned.

With that point in mind, over the next year the county will produce an Age-Friendly Strategic Plan for Marin. The county’s Aging and Adult Services office will produce a four-year plan that is required by the Older Americans Act. As you are aware, nearly 30 percent of the population in Marin is over 60 years of age, with 9 percent non-white. Of all older adults in Marin, 5 percent live at or below the federal poverty level, and another 21 percent struggle to make ends meet each month. A focus on aging equity would certainly seem to be a very good second chapter to this current Health and Human Services Strategic Plan.  

Moving forward:

  1. I would recommend that the Board of Supervisors request Health and Human services address older people of color in this Strategic Plan.
  2. I urge the Board of Supervisors to actively involve the Commission on Aging and other older adult and disability advocacy groups in setting criteria for the new HHS Director and participating on the interview panel.  
  3. I also urge the Board to make sure that Aging and Adult Services has a voice and presence at the executive leadership level of Health and Human Services. These efforts will help ensure that aging equity is at the table.

Thank you.

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