Funding will help Anoka County’s low income seniors find jobs

Federal funding will help the Anoka County Job Training Center find jobs for more low-income seniors in the county.

The Anoka County Board, on the recommendation of its Human Services Committee, has authorized the job training center to enter into a partnership with Senior Services America Inc. to be part of the federal Senior Community Services Employment Program (SCSEP).

According to Sandy Froiland, assistant director of the Anoka County Job Training Center, the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration recently solicited proposals under a competitive grant competition for some $346 million in funding for the SCSEP program.

Senior Service America, Inc., a national non-profit organization established in 1961 with headquarters in Maryland, is the third largest national SCSEP grantee and operates in 430 counties across 16 states, including Minnesota, Froiland wrote in a memo to the Human Services Committee.

SCSEP is the only federally-sponsored employment and training program targeted specifically to low-income older individuals who want to enter or re-enter the workforce, she wrote.

“Program participants receive work experience at local public or non-profit agencies and are paid the higher of the federal, state or local minimum wage, or the prevailing wage for similar employment, for approximately 20 hours per week while in community service,” Froiland stated in her memo.

The Anoka County Training Center was approached by Senior Service America, Inc. to be a partner in the SCSEP grant program, for which it has been awarded funding, according to Froiland.

Under the partnership, Senior Service America Inc., will subcontract with the job training center to deliver the services, Froiland wrote in the memo.

“This partnership will result in 26 more slots for seniors in our community,” she said.

The total budget allocation for this partnership will be $160,677 over a nine-month period from Oct. 1 through June 30, 2013.

Right now, the job training center is part of the state SCSEP program with a slot assignment of 17, but over the last program year, the center has not been able to enroll any new participants and has had to establish a waiting list for services, according to Froiland.

“These funds will allow the department to enroll more low-income seniors,” Froiland wrote in her memo.

Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah, who chairs the board’s Human Services Committee, was excited about the partnership, she said.

“We have a long waiting list of seniors struggling to meet their needs and this will provide them with an opportunity for employment at various venues in Anoka County,” Sivarajah said.

A contract between the job training center and Senior Service America will be brought to Human Services Committee at its September meeting and if approved, will then go to the county board for final action.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]