By Miri Cypers, JWI Senior Policy and Advocacy Specialist
Today, June 15th, we observe the seventh annual World Elder Abuse Awareness day. For the past two years, JWI has worked hard to combat elder abuse by focusing our efforts on improving the elder abuse grant program included in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bills. We have been proud to partner with Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), our Congressional champions on this issue, to introduce legislation to improve federal programs that combat elder abuse.
At JWI, we recognize that elder abuse in a growing epidemic. With millions up millions of baby boomers aging, dementia on the rise and caregiver shortages looming, the growing crisis of elder abuse has significant implication for the health, well-being and economic security of millions of older Americans.
Through a small but critical grant program first authorized in the VAWA reauthorization of 2000 known as the Abuse in Later Life Program, Congress has been able to provide approximately $4 million in each year in federal funding for elder abuse prevention and response. Over the years, this program has supported efforts in over 80 communities across the country to develop a coordinated, community based response to elder abuse that provides for the training of law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, and social service providers.
Over the past two years, JWI has been at the forefront of the reauthorization of VAWA this Congress placing a special emphasis on violence throughout the lifespan and continuing Congressional support for Abuse in Later Life program. We are pleased that this grant program was included in both the House and Senate versions of their VAWA reauthorization bills, (H.R. 4970 and S. 1925) and will continue to push for full funding for this important program as the House and Senate move to reconcile their two bills.