Council to host hearing in Albany

ALBANY, Ga. -- As the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services welcomes a new director, the agency is giving communities throughout the state a chance to have a say in which direction it is going.

Public hearings to get consumer input for the DAS 2010 State Plan renewal will be held statewide from Oct. 6-Nov. 18. The Albany meeting is set for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 12 at the SOWEGA Council on Aging senior center at 311 Pine Ave.

"The public hearings are scheduled statewide so customers and stakeholders can provide feedback and input regarding current and future programs and services for older adults, adults with disabilities, and family members and caregivers," said DAS Director Dr. James Bulot.

Hearings are also scheduled in Augusta, Atlanta, Savannah, Helena, Gainesville, Columbus, Milledgeville, Athens, Rome, Waycross and LaGrange.

The state plan indicates how Georgia intends to meet the requirements of the Older Americans Act as well as its goals and objectives for service delivery, strategic planning and intrastate funding. It provides a blueprint for building capacity and modernizing long-term care efforts.

This tour includes visits to all of the state's aging agencies, the first time that has been done, said SOWEGA Council on Aging Executive Director Kay Hind.

"This is an opportunity for the state director to hear what we are doing, and it's a great opportunity for our voices to be heard," she said.

Hind said the agency usually has roughly 100 attendees at its public hearings.

"I would anticipate at least that many (at the Oct. 12 event)," she said. "Someone can come on behalf of a friend or relative; we're not just targeting older people. We hope to get a good cross section."

The federal Administration on Aging requires all states to submit multiyear plans outlining their aging program goals, objectives and activities, as well as the needs of the aging population.

This event is coming as the SOWEGA Council on Aging is looking to prepare its new four-year plan, for which the agency will hold hearings in the coming months.

"The four-year cycle is a big thing for us," Hind said. "A lot of research goes into (the agency's plan)."

AoA priorities for the state plan include increasing the number of older adults with access to home and community-based services; increasing the number of older adults active and healthy; increasing the number of supported families in their efforts to care for loved ones at home and in the community; and increasing the number of older adults benefiting from programs protecting their rights and preventing elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Those in the area unable to attend the Oct. 12 hearing may send written comments until 5 p.m. Nov. 30 to svthurman@dhr.state.ga.us.

Those seeking additional information may call (404) 657-5281 or the SOWEGA Council on Aging at (229) 432-1124.