Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mental Health Services for Vulnerable Elders

Many of us in California were disheartened to learn that as part of Governor Schwarzenegger’s plan to balance the budget, he wants to raid Proposition 63 funds. Prop 63 was a 2004 ballot initiative that imposed a 1% tax on millionaires to fund mental health services. The governor wants to use the funds to pay for existing programs instead of developing new services, something the initiative specifically forbids.

But according to Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who championed Prop 63, the governor’s plan is "a non-starter." As a ballot initiative, any changes to Prop 63 have to be approved by the voters, and since the bill passed by a comfortable margin in 2004, that’s not likely to happen.

Those of us on the Archstone Advocacy Work Group hope that's the case. The group consists of reps from agencies that receive funds from the Archstone Foundation as part of its Elder Abuse Initiative. After hearing that few advocates for the elderly were participating in statewide Prop 63 “stakeholders” meetings, which set priorities for how the new money can be used, or applying for funds, our group produced a Fact Sheet that describes vulnerable elders’ mental health service needs and suggests ways that elder advocates can get involved.

The Fact Sheet is posted on the Web site of the Center on Excellence in Elder Abuse and Neglect. See Prop 63 and Elder Abuse.

Readers are welcome to use the Fact Sheet in California and beyond.

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