Governor Mills Proposes Funding for Elder Service Connections as a Permanent Part of Maine's Elder Justice Landscape
As happens every two years, legislators in Augusta are in the midst of negotiating the Governor’s biennial budget, which will take effect in July of this year. A key focus of Governor Mills’ budget is to improve the well-being of Maine’s residents through strategic investments in programs that address critical issues such as affordable housing, accessible health care, equity in our justice system, and safeguards for the state’s most vulnerable individuals.
The budget, when passed, will provide funding for three important recommendations in the Maine Elder Justice Roadmap: increased staffing of the Department of Health & Human Services’ Adult Protective Services (APS) unit, the “first responders” in situations of suspected elder abuse; building additional capacity at Legal Services for the Elderly (LSE), which provides civil legal support to Maine’s older adults; and cementing our Elder Services Connections program as a permanent part of the aging services landscape in the state. Taken together, these investments will provide older at-risk Mainers with both improved crisis intervention services and the longer-term supports necessary to address more complex needs.
Maine’ Elder Service Connections partnership between EAIME and Adult Protective Services (APS) is one that other states want to replicate, in part because it provides more positive results for clients and in part because it saves money over the long term by reducing the number and costs associated with cases that “boomerang” back to APS.
In her testimony to the Maine Legislature’s joint hearing of the Appropriations & Financial Affairs and Health & Human Services committees on behalf of this funding, EAIME’s Executive Director, Patricia Kimball, spoke about the value of permanent funding for the Elder Service Connections Program:
“I have been doing this work for decades, and this is the most exciting and hopeful work of my career. Why? It’s having a great relationship with APS. It’s working with researchers, who study the impact of our work. And most of all, it’s seeing our clients’ being able to live better lives, with less suffering, even when most everyone has given up on them.
Older peoples’ struggles are often invisible. They become isolated. They lack support networks, sometimes forcing them to depend on people who might harm them. We help our clients find the right housing. Get food. Get connected with legal services and health care. It’s a new more hopeful way of doing things that saves money and improves lives. I hope you will fund it.”
As the state legislature continues to evaluate and negotiate the recommendations in the Governor’s budget, it’s critical that appropriate levels of funding flow to the agencies that meet the needs of Maine’s older adults. We at EAIME look forward to the passage of the Governor’s budget with full funding for healthy aging, including the investment necessary to solidify and expand Elder Justice programs here in Maine.