CANTON — St. Lawrence County lawmakers this week approved two resolutions, each adjusting the county’s 2020 Office for the Aging budget after the agency received two types of federal COVID-19 relief funding this spring.
During Monday’s Services Committee meeting, OFA Director Andrea M. Montgomery presented the resolutions, which increase OFA revenue by a total of more than $300,000.
Through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, passed by Congress in March and largely facilitated by the U.S. Department of Labor, the New York State OFA has distributed funding for local agencies, and St. Lawrence County has received $74,794 for food, supplies and expenses “to prevent, prepare and respond to the coronavirus emergency,” according to the resolution.
Similarly, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act allocated funding to the state OFA, which has distributed $243,583 to St. Lawrence County earmarked for COVID-19 “disaster relief services.” The revenue increase from the CARES Act appropriates funding for food, supplies, fees and services related to OFA operations for the county’s older adults and pandemic impacts they face.
The FFCRA and CARES act funding is 100% reimbursable, so “there is no cost share with it,” Ms. Montgomery said.
During an April Services Committee meeting, county lawmakers proclaimed May as Older Americans Month, promoting the celebration of older adults as “powerful and vital individuals who greatly contribute to the community,” according to the resolution presented at the time by Ms. Montgomery.
In a unanimous move this week, lawmakers proclaimed June as Elder Abuse Awareness Month following a brief presentation of a resolution by Heather L. Wenzel, interim commissioner of the county Department of Social Services.
Each year, Ms. Wenzel said, adult protective services caseworkers in the county investigate around 400 referrals of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of vulnerable adults.
“Elder and dependent adult abuse continues to be an escalating problem in New York state,” Ms. Wenzel said. “This proposed resolution promotes resources that increase victim safety and offender accountability.”
Earlier this year, DSS representatives from St. Lawrence and neighboring counties convened to create an “enhanced, multidisciplinary team” that works to investigate and prevent financial exploitation of older adults.
For more information about OFA services and advocacy, contact the agency at 315-386-4730. County DSS can be reached at 315-379-2111.