August 27, 2015
Advocating for AAPI Older Workers in the Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act
By: Dr. Wes Lum

The Senior Community Service and Employment Program (SCSEP) is a federal program that helps low-income jobseekers who are 55 and older, and assigns them to subsidized community service employment opportunities where they update their skills through on-the-job training.

The National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) is the recipient of the national SCSEP grant targeted to Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) older workers.  NAPCA partners with project sites in nine cities nationwide to administer the program.

Most NAPCA SCSEP participants are foreign-born with limited English proficiency, and therefore, they have limited work experience in the U.S. and encounter additional barriers to find employment.  Our participants gain marketable job skills through community service.  As a result, almost half of participants who exit our program, except for health and/or family care reasons, transition into unsubsidized jobs.

A NAPCA visit to the Chinese American Service League in Chicago, a SCSEP participant.

A NAPCA visit to the Chinese American Service League in Chicago, a SCSEP site.

The U.S. Senate recently passed S. 192, which is the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA), and which preserves and strengthens the core mission of SCSEP.  This legislation is currently being considered by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and they have proposed to add performance measures that are not adequate or appropriate for the SCSEP program in general, and specifically, are inappropriate to NAPCA SCSEP participants, many of whom are limited in English proficiency with immigration backgrounds.  We do not agree with the proposed amendments offered by the House.

NAPCA supports the Senate’s version of the OAA reauthorization.  We have joined other grantees and sub-grantees from across the nation to collectively voice our support of S. 192 as it relates to Title V of the OAA.  Furthermore, we are advocating with our NAPCA SCSEP project sites to highlight the impact that these proposals will have on AAPI elders.

Connect with us on our Facebook page at and follow us on Twitter @NAPCA_Aging to join our advocacy to protect our AAPI older workers from the unintended consequences of proposed amendments to SCSEP.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.