Governor Parson signed the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget – including significant funding for the Senior Services Growth and Development Program. After nine years of persistent advocacy from ma4 members, supporters of Area Agencies on Aging, the Missouri’s Silver Hair Legislature, and others, the 2023 Missouri Legislature appropriated funding for the Senior Services Growth and Development Program Fund (SSGDP).

SSGDP provides sustainable funding for Missouri’s ten Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), with 50% of funds designated for development and expansion of senior center programs, facilities, and services.

We aren’t finished yet! HB 10 was passed in the 2023 Legislature, but still awaits the signature of Governor Parson. While we fully expect the Governor’s support, we encourage friends to contact the Governor and urge him to sign HB 10 as passed by the Legislature.

AAAs serve older adults in every county in Missouri. Funding for AAAs took a significant hit in 2008 and never recovered; federal and state funding for AAAs remained relatively flat with minimal growth that barely kept up with inflation, much less the rapidly expanding aging population. Efforts to establish sustainable funding to serve aging Missourians through the SSGDP began in 2015, and, with overwhelming bipartisan support, the SSGDP fund was created and signed into law in 2019.

That was a short-lived victory, as no funds were disbursed to the AAAs, despite the law. The 102nd Missouri General Assembly corrected this; not only did the legislature initiate the annual funding, they appropriated a one-time transfer to catch the AAAs up with the money that, by law, they were due since the beginning of the fund.

The total FY24 allocation includes a one-time transfer of approximately $32,600,000; in subsequent – future years – ongoing funding for the AAAs is anticipated to be approximately $8-10M in annual funding.

SSGDP funds will provide enhance services provided through Missouri’s AAAs, with 50% of funds designated for development and expansion of senior center programs, facilities, and services. SSGDP funding is generated from a portion of the premium tax collected from certain insurance companies and associations.

Missouri’s aging population continues to increase rapidly, with older adults projected to be 25% of the population by 2030, outnumbering youth for the first time ever. The COVID pandemic brought attention to the needs of isolated aging adults and the urgency of helping them remain safely in their own homes as opposed to residential communities.

AAAs provide vital services, programs, and information to aging Missourians and their caregivers, including senior centers, in-home services, tax preparation, transportation, and of course, home-delivered meals. Most well-known for home-delivered meals, AAAs offer much more than just nutrition. Friendly well-visits, telephone reassurance calls, in-home personal services, transportation, and the many AAA services available, more, provide the support that aging adults need to age in place, in the homes and communities of their choice.

In-home support is not only vastly preferred by aging adults, it is dramatically more affordable than institutional care, approximately a quarter of the cost. AAAs are uniquely positioned in our communities to provide the support and services that aging Missourians want and need to remain safe, healthy, independent, and in their own homes and communities

SHL members passionately persisted in advocating for these funds and were pivotal to this success. Funding for SSGDP reflects a strong community effort, with grassroots volunteers such as Missouri’s Silver Hair Legislators, the Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging, (Ma4), and overwhelming bi-partisan support from the Missouri’s Legislature. Key to the success of funding SSGDP, Rep. Deb Lavender (D-98) and Sen. Lincoln Hough (R-30) championed efforts to correct the flow of funding as required by law. SHL members passionately persisted in advocating for these funds.

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