Press Release

Generations United’s Statement on the President Signing the Older Americans Act Reauthorization into Law

WASHINGTON, DC—During the current health crisis, Generations United applauds Congress for passing the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020, now signed into law by the president. The Act—which includes a series of intergenerational provisions for which Generations United advocated—has been reauthorized through 2024.

The intergenerational provisions include grants for multigenerational programs and increased opportunities to serve grandparents and other relatives raising children.

The reauthorization comes during the current COVID-19 health crisis, where older adults over the age of 60 and people with compromised immune systems are asked to isolate themselves and not have contact with children and young people.

This isn’t possible for the 2.4 million grandparents who have primary responsibility for raising their grandchildren. Like our first responders, grandparents and other relative caregivers are the first line of defense for the children in their care, keeping them safely with family and out of foster care.

These grandfamilies — older and younger members alike — can’t take a break from each other.

We are pleased that the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act supports grandfamilies by removing the 10% cap on using National Family Caregivers Support Program (NFCSP) funds to serve grandparents and other relatives raising children.

“Giving local Area Agencies on Aging the option to use funds as needed to serve increasing numbers of grandfamilies is critical, especially in the midst of both the opioid crisis and current concerns related to the Coronavirus,” explains Jaia Peterson Lent, deputy executive director. “While many families are looking at ways to put distance between grandparents and grandchildren to reduce risk of transmitting the virus, grandparents raising grandchildren do not have this luxury. Having access to caregiver training, respite and information and referral services provided through the NFCSP is vital for these families.”

The bill makes improvements to a multigenerational grants program and specifically highlights a preference for shared site programs such as co-located childcare and long-term care. It includes language that names key goals and components of intergenerational activities highlighted in Generations United’s report, All In Together: Creating Places Where Young and Old Thrive, supported by The Eisner Foundation.

“By including intergenerational programs and shared spaces and places, Congress has demonstrated their support for using resources to connect generations rather than separate them. This is an important step forward in advancing Intergenerational solutions and addressing social isolation across the country,” says Donna Butts, executive director. “In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, we need to maintain and create ways for younger and older people to connect that benefit their mental health without jeopardizing their physical health.”

The Older Americans Act also includes a one-year extension of the Supporting Grandparent Raising Grandchildren Council, which is charged with developing a report to Congress. More information about intergenerational provisions in the Supporting Older Americans Act is available here.