The South Carolina legislature is looking at changes that will come from elevating the Lt. Governor’s Office on Aging (LGOA) into a Cabinet-level position.
Wednesday’s consideration by the Joint Legislative Committee to Study Services, Programs, and Facilities for Aging comes as the lieutenant governor becomes a position picked by the governor next year. Previously, the office was elected separately.
Under the enabling legislation that passed the legislature earlier this year, the LGOA will move from the lieutenant governor’s control to the governor’s.
Non-legislative member of the committee Dr. Lee Pearson said a cabinet position it could mean better partnerships with all the agencies that deal with seniors. “I’m quite hopeful that the elevation of the Office on Aging to a Cabinet-level will be the impetus for promoting greater collaboration,” he said during Wednesday’s meeting.
He said that having it as a cabinet-level position could be better for the state’s older population. “As the Department on Aging is formed and elevated to a cabinet-level we need to keep a keen eye on the future needs of our older adult population.”
Currently, just as the name implies, the Lt. Governor is the head of the office. However Office on Aging director Darryl Broome said he was “excited” for the agency’s future.
“There are challenges, but I don’t see any true stumbling blocks,” he said.
Members of the committee are also considering a proposal which would move the Department of Social Services’ Adult Protective Services division into the Office on Aging. A recent audit found problems at the program to help investigate the abuse of vulnerable or disabled adults because often struggled for resources as DSS focused more on investigating child abuse.
Chairman State Sen. Tom Alexander, R-Oconee, said the committee will likely take more time to study the practical impacts of such a change before making a recommendation to the legislature. He hopes a draft report will be finished by December 1.
The Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging works with a network of regional and local organizations to develop and manage services that help seniors remain independent in their homes and in their communities.