TOMS RIVER- Ocean County's efforts led by Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of Senior Services, to get state funding restored to a critical program that helps keep seniors in their homes and living independently has resulted in a successful outcome.
"We have been notified that we will receive $1,470.084 for the Jersey Assistance for Community Caregiving (JACC) Program which is an increase of about $400,000 for the state fiscal year 2020. We were originally advised this program would see a funding cut of almost $250,000," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. "We presented the facts and our concerns to the state and we were heard. This is a victory for our seniors who rely on the help they get from this program."
When Ocean County first learned that funding for the program would be cut by about $250,000, the freeholders at the request of Vicari, immediately brought their concerns to the Governor and the state Legislators representing Ocean County.
"It was important we work with the state legislative districts representing Ocean County in this matter," Vicari said. "These cuts would have effected their constituents as well and we all needed to work together."
According to Maria LaFace, Director of the Ocean County Office of Senior Services, JACC is a state funded program that provides a broad array of in-home services to enable an individual at risk of placement in a nursing facility and who meets the income requirement, to remain in their community home. The program provides a unique array of supports intended to delay or prevent placement in a nursing facility.
JACC recipients all receive care management who prepare and execute a plan of care for the clients.
Services to be delivered include respite care, homemakers services, personal emergency response systems, home delivered meals, transportation, adult day care, special medical equipment or supplies, caregiver training, home health aide services.
Vicari called this a partial victory for the county as it continues to press for restored funding to the Visiting Home Care Service of Ocean County.
Visiting Home Care Services of Ocean County is one of the County's long standing providers offering home health aide services and adult day care services. They have been providing these services for 40 years using Title 20 funding through the state Division of Disability Services.
"We recently received notice that this funding will end as of June 30, 2020 and the provider stands to lose $460,000.00," Vicari said.
On average Visiting Home Care Services (VHS) has been providing approximately 300 hours a week of home health aide services under Title 20 grant funds.
"This translates to 15,600 hours of home care a year that will not be provided or 50 clients a week will go without help," Vicari said. "This is unacceptable.
"I am hopeful our voices calling for the restoration of that funding will again be heard by Trenton," Vicari said. "With so many of our seniors being frail and vulnerable, these programs and services provide essential lifelines in many ways. State cuts reduce our ability to provide important services to our seniors."
Ocean County is home to more than 173,000 senior citizens and 30 percent of them rely solely on monthly Social Security checks to cover their living expenses.
"A significant number of our seniors are 85-years-old and older and many rely on key supportive services to remain in their homes and their communities," Vicari said. "We don't want our seniors to be forced into managed long term services and supports. We need to do all we can to make certain they can live at home independently. This restored funding is a necessary step toward that goal."