The 2006 OAA reauthorization encourages state units on aging and area agencies on aging to target services to those with the “greatest social need.” The new guidance, part of AoA’s Frequently Asked Questions, is available at http://www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/AoA_Programs/OAA/resources/Faqs.aspx#English under “Targeting.” It reads in full:
Q: Does “greatest social need” as defined in the Older Americans [Act] allow communities to target funds to populations they identify as experiencing cultural, social or geographic isolation other than isolation caused by racial or ethnic status?
A: While the definition of “greatest social need” in the Older Americans Act includes isolation caused by racial or ethnic status, the definition is not intended to exclude the targeting of populations that experience cultural, social or geographic isolation due to other factors. In some communities, such isolation may be caused by minority religious affiliation. In others, isolation due to sexual orientation or gender identity may restrict a person’s ability to perform normal daily tasks or live independently. Each planning and service area must assess their particular environment to determine those populations best targeted based on “greatest social need.”