For Immediate Release
Applicants needed for new advisory committee seeking to improve services for older adults, people with disabilities
SANTA ROSA, CA | January 18, 2024
The Sonoma County Human Services Department is accepting applications to serve on a new advisory committee that will draft an equity-focused plan to address the unmet needs of older adults and people with disabilities in Santa Rosa and the Sonoma Valley, particularly those who are Black, Indigenous and people of color.
The advisory committee will lead the development of a Local Aging and Disability Action Plan for Santa Rosa and the Sonoma Valley, home to some of the highest concentrations of BIPOC older adults in the county. Its findings will serve as a guide in developing Age Friendly plans for the two areas, similar to proposals that have been created by the cities of Healdsburg and Petaluma.
The Human Services Department is seeking older adults and people with disabilities from BIPOC communities in Santa Rosa and the Sonoma Valley to serve on the advisory committee. The committee, which will meet monthly, will be composed of residents, advocates and organizations representing BIPOC communities and people with disabilities. A majority of its members will come directly from BIPOC communities, ensuring their voices and experiences are included in the action plan.
The Human Services Department has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the California Department of Aging to create the action plan, which will align with the county’s and state’s Master Plan for Aging. A Berkeley consulting firm, MIG, Inc., will develop culturally competent focus groups and listening sessions to engage BIPOC older adults and people with disabilities, a demographic that has been overlooked in the past as a valuable resource in shaping plans to deliver services for aging and disabled people.
“There are growing numbers of older adults in Sonoma County who are Black, Indigenous or members of other communities of color,” said Supervisor David Rabbitt, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “It is essential that their voices are heard as we strive to improve services to older adults and people with disabilities. Their unique experiences can help us identify unmet needs in their communities and address them.”
The number of people in Sonoma County age 60 or older grew 22 percent over the last decade even as the county’s overall population declined by 3 percent, according to the Human Services Department’s Adult and Aging Division. Today, Sonoma County is home to approximately 142,000 people aged 60 or older, a group that now comprises 28 percent of the county’s population. While the county’s overall population is expected to continue shrinking over the next decade, people 60 and older will account for a larger share of the population as it ages, surpassing 30 percent of the county’s population by 2030, California Department of Finance projections show.
The Local Aging and Disability Action Plan will seek to improve the community’s livability for people of all ages centered on equity, cultural competency, community engagement and disability inclusion principles and practices.
“With almost 40 percent of the City of Sonoma’s population 65 and over, the city sees this as a unique opportunity to reach and engage underserved residents with a focus on equity. We look forward to collaborating with state and county programs,” said Sandra Lowe, mayor of the City of Sonoma.
“We see this work as a catalyst to help advance aligned plans for other cities, thereby benefiting all of Sonoma County and serving as a model for other municipalities and regions throughout the state,” said Natalie Rogers, mayor of the City of Santa Rosa.
To apply for a position on the advisory committee and obtain more information, go to https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/health-and-human-services/human-services/older-adults-people-with-disabilities/boards-government-vendors/local-aging-and-disability-action-plan or call Kathleen Cortez at the Area Agency on Aging at (707) 565-5903.