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community health fund


Contra Costa County Senior Resource Expansion


Contra Costa County’s Area Agency on Aging’s 2020-2024 plan found that in Far East Contra Costa County the pace of social and community resources has not grown fast enough to meet the demands of a rapidly growing population. Moreover, too many of the area’s seniors are unaware of the services available to them, face gaps in or obstacles to the services they need, are unsure how to access the services that do exist or simply mistrust service providers.

To address this growing challenge, a collaboration among Meals on Wheels Diablo Region, Choice in Aging, Contra Costa Senior Legal Services, Diablo Valley Foundation for the Aging and Empowered Aging approached the CHF with their vision for enhancing awareness and access to services for seniors in East Contra Costa County.

In August 2020, the CHF awarded an Executive Director discretionary grant to Meals on Wheels Diablo Region (MOWDR) to contract with La Piana Consulting and work with the other partners noted above to develop a plan for an East Contra Costa Senior Resource Initiative.

In December 2020, the CHF agreed to be the primary funder for Phase I implementation, providing $97,750 for the partners to create capacity in the region by adding a new MOWDR staff position – Older Adult Support Specialist. The specialist’s role is to work closely with the core collaborating partners and other providers in the region to enhance service coordination, expand outreach and education, and increase data gathering and analysis.

Despite the challenges and interruptions that the COVID 19 pandemic presented, the partners made steady progress during Phase I implementation. They hired the Older Adult Resource Specialist, who has been working diligently to lay the groundwork for enhancing resident awareness of and access to services. More specifically, the Resource Specialist spearheads and conducts ongoing meetings with key community leaders and local service providers to bring awareness of the program and build partnerships; served on three community coalitions; and helped organize and participated in drive-thru and in-person community health fairs in Antioch and Oakley. In addition, the leadership team and Resource Specialist worked together to develop a data collection strategy, community outreach approach methods and referral process

In December 2021, the CHF awarded the partners grants totaling $90,000 to support Phase II implementation of the plan, which focused on ensuring that at least 60% of seniors served will be from underserved East Contra Costa County communities. This includes low-income, people of color, socially and geographically isolated, disabled and monolingual Spanish-speaking residents. The partners successfully:

  • Increased in-person outreach at locations where older adults gather and where their adult children gather, including congregate feeding sites, low-income housing sites and senior centers.
  • Tested and refined non-traditional outreach methods:
    • Visited hard to reach, isolated neighborhoods by going door-to-door
    • Sent informational flyer mailings to seniors in underserved zip codes
    • Implemented social media posts highlighting available service
    • Engaged in social media outreach with trusted local nonprofit partners
  • Designed and implemented a data collection plan that allows the partners to ensure the initiative is reaching underserved senior populations

Now, in Phase III, with the CHF promising to match ever dollar MOWDR raises up to $20,000, the partners aim to expand the initiative countywide by:

o   Hiring two new Older Adult Resource Specialists to serve West and Central Contra Costa County

o   Promoting the current East Contra Costa County Outreach Specialist to Outreach Manager, with responsibility for overseeing the countywide programs and onboarding new specialists

o   Designing and conducting a countywide outreach program

o   Developing a navigator network aimed at connecting nonprofit service providers throughout the county

Finally, ongoing discussions among CHF staff, the MOWDR executive director and the Contra Costa Area Agency on Aging director resulted in the latter agency inviting a proposal to providing ongoing funding to support sustaining the initiative (with Measure X funding) countywide.