ACL begins awarding $150M to expand the aging and disability networks’ public health workforce

In November, the Biden-Harris Administration announced that ACL would receive $150 million to expand the public health workforce within the aging and disability networks. This week, ACL began distributing that funding to more than a dozen of its grantees and grantee networks. Half of the total funding will be awarded over the next two weeks; the remainder of the funding will be awarded on a rolling basis over the coming months. Public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work, and play. The aging and disability networks play essential roles in that work, particularly during a public health emergency. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the aging and disability networks have:

  • Helped people move from high-risk congregate settings to safer settings in the community. 

  • Played a key role in helping people with disabilities and older adults get vaccinated – including boosters. 

  • Ensured that older adults and people with disabilities have been able to access health care, including COVID-19 treatment. 

  • Worked tirelessly to making sure people with disabilities and older adults had the services and supports they needed to stay healthy and safe in the community. 

The aging and disability networks also play a significant role in expanding the capacity and capability of the public health workforce to meet the unique needs of older adults and people with disabilities.  The funding, which will be available until September 30, 2024, is intended to help cover the costs of staff to conduct these and other crucial public health activities, and to alleviate some of the strain our networks have experienced during the pandemic. Funding can be used to cover wages and benefits, as well as the costs of associated equipment, training, and supplies for these professionals.Funding will be awarded to 11 grantee networks, as follows:

  • Centers for Independent Living - $38.3M*

  • Independent Living Designated State Entities - $4.5M* 

  • No Wrong Door Systems/Aging and Disability Resource Centers - $4.4M*

  • Protection & Advocacy Systems - $6.4M*

  • State Assistive Technology Programs - $4.5M*

  • State Councils on Developmental Disabilities - $4.5M*

  • State Health Insurance Assistance Programs - $4.3M*

  • State Units on Aging/Area Agencies on Aging - $49.8M*

  • Traumatic Brain Injury State Partnership Programs - $2.2M*

  • Tribes and Tribal Organizations - $22.6M*

  • University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities - $7.6M*

*approximate - rounded to the nearest thousandIn addition, the Paralysis Resource Center and Limb Loss Resource Center each will receive grants of $160,000.  Funding was allocated evenly within each group to ensure that each grantee (or probable sub-grantee) receives enough to pay for approximately one full-time equivalent for about one year (depending on the type of professional).     In order to get the funding to communities as fast as possible, ACL is distributing it using existing grant mechanisms. The process for releasing the funding varies depends on the way each grantee or grantee network receives its primary funding from ACL. Funding for the aging network began today with grants awarded to State Units on Aging. The majority of that funding is expected to be distributed through sub-grants to Area Agencies on Aging and other community-based organizations providing direct services to older adults.  State Assistive Technology Programs and tribes will receive their funding by the end of next week. Four networks must submit letters of assurance, as explained in Federal Register notices published this week. These include State Councils on Developmental DisabilitiesProtection & Advocacy SystemsCenters for Independent Living, and Independent Living Designated State Entities (IL DSE). As is explained in the Federal Register notice, we are encouraging IL DSEs to distribute the funding through sub-grants, including to State Independent Living Councils or organizations that receive funding through Part B of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.The remaining networks and grantees will receive individual notices to apply for funding by the end of next week.  To assist our networks with implementing this new program, we have published a series of Frequently Asked Questions on our COVID-19 website.