Arkansas will receive $8.3 million in grants to help meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities as communities implement measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, according to an April 21 news release.


HHS reported that overall $955 million in grants are being made by the Administration for Community Living (ACL.)


Arkansas is receiving grants totaling $8,327,250. The grants will fund home-delivered meals, care services in the home, respite care and other support to families and caregivers, information about and referral to supports, and more, according to the release.


The CARES Act was signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act provides supplemental funding for programs authorized by the Older Americans Act of 1965 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014.


Through these programs, community-based organizations, such as Area Agencies on Aging, Centers for Independent Living, senior centers, faith-based organizations, and other non-profits provide a vast array of resources and services to help older adults and people with disabilities stay healthy and live independently in their communities across the United States.


ARKANSAS CARES ACT FUNDING TO HELP OLDER, DISABLED PEOPLE INCLUDES:


• $1,840,101 for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), which will help greater numbers of older adults shelter in place to minimize their exposure to COVID-19. These include personal care assistance, help with household chores and grocery shopping, transportation to essential services (such as grocery stores, banks, or doctors) when necessary, and case management.


• $4,416,242 for home-delivered meals for older adults. States can also expand “drive-through” or “grab-and-go” meals for older adults who typically would participate in meal programs at community centers and other locations that closed due to social distancing measures.


• $941,295 for Centers for Independent Living to provide direct and immediate support and services to individuals with disabilities who are experiencing disruptions to their independent, community-based living due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Services will ensure individuals with disabilities have the supports they need to safely stay in their homes or return home after a hospitalization or institutionalization during (and directly after) COVID-19.


• $945,602 for the National Family Caregiver Support Program to expand a range of services that help family and informal caregivers provide support for their loved ones at home. These include counseling, respite care, training and connecting people to information.


• $184,010 to support State Long-term Care Ombudsman programs in providing consumer advocacy services for residents of long-term care facilities across the country. Restrictions on visitation have significantly increased demand for ombudsman services, as families seek assistance in ensuring the well-being of their loved ones. Ombudsman programs will seek to expand their virtual presence to residents and their families, and continue to promote the health, safety welfare, and rights of residents in the context of COVID-19. This funding will give Ombudsman programs the flexibility to hire additional staff and purchase additional technology, associated hardware, and personal protective equipment once in-person visits resume.


Additionally, $50 million for Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) will be divided among and distributed to states and territories by the end of April. This allocation will fund programs that both connect people at greatest risk to COVID-19 to services needed to practice social distancing and seek to mitigate issues created by it, such as social isolation. ADRCs across the country are reporting unprecedented demand for assistance with applications for services, care coordination, services that support people in returning home following hospitalization, and the like.


“Area Agencies on Aging, Centers for Independent Living, and other community-based organizations are working hard to expand capacity to meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities during this extraordinary time,” said ACL Administrator Lance Robertson. “These additional funds will allow for an incredible response at the state and local level to meet the needs of people who are facing some of the greatest risks during the COVID-19 emergency.”


Older adults who need assistance can contact the Eldercare Locator to find services available in their community. The Eldercare Locator toll-free number is 1-800-677-1116 or they can visit https://eldercare.acl.gov/.


People with disabilities can find their local Center for Independent Living at https://www.ilru.org/projects/cil-net/cil-center-and-association-directory. In addition, the Eldercare Locator can help people with disabilities find their local Aging and Disability Resource Center.