Congregate Services Initiative (CSI)
In the early 1990s, after a decade of Federal reductions in funding for congregate services through the Older Americans Act, advocacy groups were very concerned about the erosion of the funding base for preventive congregate services. In a 1991 position paper entitled Congregate Services Initiative, the New York State Conference for the Aging, the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City, the New York City Aging Services Coalition and the Queens Interagency Council for the Aging pointedly stated, "that in a period of tight fiscal constraints we have been confronted with the thinking that limited resources should be primarily allocated to the most frail and at-risk population, and have found ourselves in the position of needing to advocate for the preservation of a continuum-of-care network that supports all older New Yorkers." Senior centers and recreation clubs were touted as fundamental components of the continuum of care. They were natural focal points for older persons and their families to gain access to community services. To address the issue of resource prioritization, the advocates reasoned that "congregate services are preventive in nature, and enable both the well and the frail elderly to remain productive in their communities by providing a setting that promotes wellness, activity and volunteerism." The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) supported the efforts to create discrete funding for a Congregate Services Initiative (CSI) to preserve and enhance funding for programs that promote wellness and ensure that older adults do not face unnecessary isolation and deterioration.
CSI is intended to provide recreational and health-related services in congregate settings. Moreover, it is intended to preserve wellness and health in seniors, thus delaying the future need for more intensive health-related services. By legislative intent, CSI services are aimed at meeting the needs of the well elderly. Allowable CSI services are: information and referral, transportation, nutrition-related services, socialization/companionship, educational and cultural opportunities, counseling, support services for families/caregivers, volunteer opportunities, employment services information, and health promotion and disease prevention services.
CSI, state funded at $340,500 provided services to about 18,000 older New Yorkers. The fund was used to support more than 14,000 senior centers education/recreation group sessions, 4,000 health promotion sessions, 17,000 rides, 600 rides of assisted transportation, 200 hours of nutrition counseling, and 100 nutrition education sessions.