Earlier this month, the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) hosted two community listening sessions in San Francisco, CA and Seattle, WA for invited Congressional representatives, allowing Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) older workers in the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) the opportunity to tell Congress why SCSEP is important and valuable to them and their community.
SCSEP is the only federal job training program focused exclusively on helping low-income older Americans return to the workforce, empowering them to improve their financial well-being. In Fiscal Year 2016, NAPCA served over 1,000 older workers by providing job training though temporary paid work experiences that lead to unsubsidized employment.
Both listening sessions provided the opportunity for a current SCSEP participant to share a positive impact that this program has had in their life. For example, in Alina shared that she immigrated from China to San Francisco in 2012 at the age of 55. Recognizing that San Francisco is a very competitive city, finding a suitable job was very difficult because of her inability to understand English. In 2013, Alina joined SCSEP and then enrolled in City College’s English and computer classes, starting at English as a Second Language (ESL) Level 1. While placed at the Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco to receive training as an Office Assistant, Alina also enrolled in two specialized training courses: California Child Care and Custodial Training and obtained certificates of completion from both. Alina is now starting ESL Level 6 classes and was recently hired in a part-time office support role at the Chinese Culture Foundation and is “thankful for the beneficial training opportunity provided through SCSEP and support from host agency staff to continue to take English and computer classes.”
The listening session was picked up by local ethnic news outlets and the media coverage from KTSF Channel 26, Sing Tao News and World Journal can be found below.
Broadcast on KTSF Channel 26: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jb9DDb9oLSo
On October 10, 2017, in partnership with Self-Help for the Elderly, roughly 30 SCSEP participants met with staff representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris and House Leader Nancy Pelosi. NAPCA Board Member Pablo J. Wong was also in attendance.
Self-Help has partnered with NAPCA to administer SCSEP in San Francisco County since 1989, and expanded the program to Alameda County in 2017. 80% of the participants in these counties are limited English proficient, with Chinese being their primary language, so the listening session was held with continuous interpretation.
On October 11, 2017, almost 50 SCSEP participants from King County met with staff from Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal at Kawabe Memorial House. Kawabe has partnered with NAPCA as a host agency providing on the job training for over 15 years. The listening session in Seattle was conducted in English, Mandarin, Cantonese and Korean.
NAPCA currently operates SCSEP at 16 project sites in 54 counties in seven states, thanks to the partnership of 10 other subcontractors like Self-Help and Kawabe Memorial House. In Fiscal Year 2016, NAPCA partnered with 420 local nonprofit and government programs, including libraries, senior centers and schools, contributing $1.17m of in-kind support back into the communities.
For more information about SCSEP, please contact NAPCA at 206-624-1221.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.