Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, state Department on Aging (SDA) Commissioner Edith Prague and members of the General Assembly’s Aging Committee, held a ceremonial bill signing recently for Public Act 13-125, An Act Concerning the Department on Aging. The legislation fully establishes SDA which was statutorily created on January 1, 2013 and will ensure that Connecticut’s seniors have access to the supportive services necessary to live with dignity, security, and independence.
“Under the leadership of Commissioner Prague, this department will greatly improve the quality of life for our state’s growing senior population,” said Governor Malloy. “Over the last decade, the number of elderly residents living in Connecticut has grown nearly 5 percent and currently makes up more than 14 percent of the state’s population – that number is expected to grow to 21.5 percent of the population by 2030. This is why it is crucial that we have an office specifically designed to assist these residents and administer the services and programs that they depend on day-in and day-out.”
The department will be responsible for managing a variety of federally funded programs at the state level under the Older American’s Act. All appropriate functions, programs, and duties within the Department of Social Services’ (DSS) State Unit on Aging and Office of Long Term Care Ombudsman will be transferred to the newly-formed SDA. In March, Governor Malloy tapped former State Senator Edith Prague of Columbia to serve as the Commissioner of SDA.
“There's much we need to do to help elderly residents in our state and, now that we have a department that focuses specifically on them, we can work on improving the way we deliver those services,” said Lt. Governor Wyman. “As the past chairman of the State Senate’s Committee on Aging, Commissioner Prague has experience on issues pertaining to elderly services and is well-respected by her colleagues in both parties as a staunch advocate for senior citizens across the state. I am happy to have Commissioner Prague as a partner as we work towards the Governor’s goal of improving the quality of life and care for Connecticut’s older adults.”
“We know that the demand for programs that serve our seniors will increase dramatically in the coming years,” said Commissioner Prague. “Having a central office to take the lead on policies relevant to our senior citizens will make services more easily accessible. I thank Governor Malloy for getting out in front of this issue by creating the Department on Aging and am eager to work together to ensure the programs we offer meet the needs of our elderly residents.”
Thirty-one people will work for SDA, including Commissioner Prague, Pamela Toohey, an executive assistant to the commissioner, 15 staff transferred from the State Unit on Aging formerly at DSS, and 14 staff transferred from the Office of the Long Term Care Ombudsman.