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Department of Aging. (Photo: aging.ca.gov)

California’s Two Aging Entities: What’s the Difference?

Programs serve older adults, family caregivers, and residents in long-term care facilities

By Chris Micheli, September 9, 2020 6:22 am

California has two aging-related entities: California Commission on Aging and Department of Aging. What’s the difference?

California Commission on Aging

Welfare and Institutions Code Division 8.5, Chapter 3 concerns the California Commission on Aging in Sections 9200 to 9205.  Section 9200 provides that there is in state government the California Commission on Aging. The Commission is comprised of 25 individuals as follows:

  • Nineteen persons appointed by the Governor, with nine of these persons appointed from lists of nominees submitted by the area agency on aging advisory councils. At least five names must be submitted as nominees for each vacancy.
  • Three persons appointed by the Assembly Speaker.
  • Three persons appointed by the Senate Rules Committee.

In addition, the Commission must be comprised by a majority of members who are 60 years of age or older; they must be actual consumers of services under the federal Older Americans Act; they must be representatives of the geographic, cultural, economic, and other factors in the state. The Commissioners serve three-year terms and are volunteers.

Health and Safety Code Division 103, Part 4, Chapter 1 on aging states in Section 104920 that it is “the intent of the Legislature that the California Commission on Aging be the coordinating agency of all programs for the aging in this state, except those programs designated elsewhere by the Governor or Legislature. It is further the intent of the Legislature that the Commission cooperate with the department to evaluate and further coordinate programs for outpatient medical services for the aging.

According to the California Commission on Aging, it was established in 1973 by the Burton Act. It was confirmed in the original Older Californians Act of 1980 and reconfirmed in the Mello-Granlund Older Californians Act of 1996. The Commission serves as “the principal advocate in the state on behalf of older individuals, including, but not limited to, advisory participation in the consideration of all legislation and regulations made by state and federal departments and agencies relating to programs and services that affect older individuals.”

Department of Aging

Welfare and Institutions Code Division 8.5, Chapter 2 establishes the California Department of Aging and, in Article 1, contains specified general provisions in Section 9110 to 9114. Section 9110 provides that there is in the California Health and Human Services Agency the Department of Aging.

In addition, the Department’s mission “shall be to provide leadership to the area agencies on aging in developing systems of home- and community-based services that maintain individuals in their own homes or least restrictive homelike environments.” And the Department is required to develop minimum standards for service delivery to ensure that its programs meet consumer needs, operate in a cost-effective manner, and preserve the independence and dignity of aging Californians.

Section 9100 also requires the Department to report the Elder Economic Security Standard Index data for each service area in its state plan and use it as a reference when making decisions about allocating its existing resources. In addition, the Department is required to ensure that the system meets specified requirements such as responding to the needs of individuals, families and caregivers; provide consumer choice and self-determination, etc.

According to the Department, it administers programs that serve older adults, adults with disabilities, family caregivers, and residents in long-term care facilities throughout the State. These programs are funded through the federal Older Americans Act, the Older Californians Act, and through the Medi-Cal program. Also, the Department contracts with the network of 33 Area Agencies on Aging, who directly manage a wide array of federal and state-funded services that provide meals, help finding employment; supportive services to assist older individuals as well as younger adults with disabilities to live as independently as possible; promote healthy aging and community involvement; and support family members in their vital care giving role.

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