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Carroll County gets CARES funding to help older adults

Older adults and caregivers in Carroll County will soon benefit from approximately $285,400 in CARES Act funding.

The Board of Commissioners, at its most recent meeting, unanimously voted to accept the funding from the Maryland Department of Aging, which received funding through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The money does not require a county match.

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Approximately $73,400 will go to aging supportive services, about $176,100 will go to congregate/home delivered meals, and roughly $35,800 will benefit the National Family Caregiver Support Program.

This relief is separate from the $19.7 million in CARES funding the county applied for through the state.

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Gina Valentine, bureau chief of aging and disabilities, said the Department of Aging CARES funding is planned to be used for staffing, supplies, transportation, home-delivered meals, and support for caregivers.

She noted they are particularly concerned about people who cannot afford transportation.

“We want to make sure that individuals are able to get to the doctor, get to the pharmacy, get to the grocery store," Valentine said.

Part of the funding will be used to buy transportation booklets from Carroll Transit so older adults who cannot afford tickets can get them, according to Valentine.

Since congregate meals are not being served at county facilities during the pandemic, the intent is to use this piece of the funding for home delivered meals. Valentine said staff members are moving forward with contracting a local meal provider to pilot delivery of home meals to older adult housing complexes. She hopes this will be implemented in the next week or two.

Valentine wrote in an email the plan is to start with one housing complex and increase from there. She said which housing complexes will be served has yet to be decided via formal agreement with the contractor.

Caregiver funds will support those who are caring for older adults and grandparents caring for grandchildren under the age of 18, according to Valentine.

The bureau of aging is in talks with Carroll Community College to possibly offer virtual classes for caregivers and virtual support group meetings, she said.

Valentine said the CARES funding is available through September of 2021, and the money can be moved between support services, congregate/home delivered meals, and the caregiver support program.

Rich Ottone, supervisor of senior and community centers, said the flexibility will greatly help the Department of Citizen Services, which the bureau of aging falls under.

“It’s going to allow us to maybe get a little bit more creative with reaching people who have needs, food needs, which is terrific for us," Ottone said.

Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, was glad to hear a chunk of the money will go toward meal delivery.

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“The flexibility is phenomenal," Rothstein said.

According to Valentine, the Maryland Department of Aging calculated how much funding to give Carroll County based on a formula that considers the number of older adults and poverty level in the community.

Celene Steckel, director of the Department of Citizen Services, said Monday they are awaiting the final notice of the CARES grant award.

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