Statement by the President: Signing of the "Older Americans Act Amendments of 2000" (11/13/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                          (Aboard Air Force One)

For Immediate Release                           November 13, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

     Today I am pleased to sign into law H.R. 782, the "Older Americans Act
Amendments of 2000."  The Older Americans Act of 1965, last reauthorized by
the Congress in 1992, provides essential home and community-based services,
such as congregate and home-delivered meals, transportation, legal
assistance, employment and volunteer opportunities, health promotion
activities, pension counseling programs, and protection from abuse in
institutions and in the community for millions of older persons across the
United States.

     I am very pleased that this bipartisan legislation includes, for the
first time, an important new program designed to assist families.  It
provides the authorization for the National Family Caregiver Support
Program, which I first proposed in 1999 as part of my long-term care
initiative.  This program will help hundreds of thousands of family members
-- spouses, adult children, and others -- who are struggling to care for
their frail older loved ones who are ill or disabled.  Studies have shown
that caregiving can take a huge emotional, physical, and financial toll on
families.  The support provided through this new program includes critical
informa-tion, training, and counseling, as well as much needed quality
respite care for those caregivers who are juggling jobs and other family
responsibilities while meeting the special needs of loved ones in their
care.  This legislation also recognizes the challenges that grandparents
and other relatives caring for children face, as well as those of older
individuals who are caring for children who have disabilities.  When
funded, this program will provide valuable assistance to the families who
need it most.

     Beyond providing this important support to families, the bill I am
signing today will strengthen and improve the delivery of important daily
services to our most vulnerable aging citizens through our national network
of State and area agencies on aging, tribal organizations, and other
members of
our community, including volunteers, many of whom are older persons
themselves.  The new legislation gives our States, area agencies, and
Tribes more flexibility in serving elders in their own communities and
regions, and enhances the coordination of Federal, State, and local
programs to maximize the effectiveness of program activities.

     This legislation does much to position our rapidly growing aging
population for the decades ahead when the number of older persons in need
of help will be much larger and more diverse.  The Act continues to focus
attention on the needs of those in greatest social and economic need, with
particular attention to low-income minority elders, and it recognizes the
needs of those older persons who live in rural areas of our country.  It
acknowledges the cultural differences among our tribal populations, and
provides them with caregiver support and disaster relief assistance as well
as promoting better coordination of services between State and tribal
grantees.   It promotes innovation and the development of best practices
for supporting not only older persons, but family caregivers living at
home, in the community, or on tribal reservations.

     I am also pleased that this legislation incorporates the key features
of my Administration?s proposal for reauthorizing and enhancing the Senior
Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).  This important program
provides part-time community service employment to low-income individuals
ages 55 and older, and assists them in obtaining unsubsidized employment.
The bill would maintain the unique and complementary structure of SCSEP,
under which national nonprofit organizations as well as States receive
grants to operate the program.  It also strengthens SCSEP by establishing
an enhanced performance accountability system, reinforcing connections
between SCSEP and the broader workforce investment system established under
the Workforce Investment Act, and improving the planning process by
for broad participation in the development of a plan in each State to
ensure an equitable distribution of projects and the coordination of
services to seniors.

     Finally, the Act calls for the convening of a White House Conference
on Aging by the end of 2005 in order to continue to prepare our Nation for
its own gift of longevity.

     Today?s enactment of this legislation extending and improving the
Older Americans Act, and establishing the new National Family Caregiver
Support Program, reflects our continued commitment to our older population,
and represents a victory for Americans of all ages.

                              WILLIAM J. CLINTON

    November 13, 2000.

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