Klobuchar, Cassidy Introduce Legislation to Ensure Seniors Can Safely Volunteer During Pandemic
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) introduced legislation that will help ensure seniors can continue to safely volunteer during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Seniors are uniquely vulnerable to infection during the pandemic and are also the single largest group of national service participants. The Senior Corps Distance Volunteering Act will allow seniors to safely connect remotely to volunteer and community engagement opportunities.
"National service and volunteer programs represent some of the best of our country, and older Americans play a huge role by volunteering through Senior Corps," Klobuchar said. "This legislation would help ensure that seniors can remain engaged and connected to their communities through volunteer service without risking their health during the pandemic."
"Seniors are willing and able to give back to their communities. Covid-19 has prevented many from doing so because of health concerns. This bill supports the mission of Senior Corps members and protects the health of those involved," Dr. Cassidy said.
Specifically, the Senior Corps Distance Volunteering Act would:
* Provide $5 million for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) -- which manages the Senior Corps program -- to create an online platform within 30 days after the enactment of the legislation to facilitate Senior Corps programs during the coronavirus pandemic through distance volunteering;
* Require CNCS to provide information to and issue guidance for regional Senior Corps offices on how to connect their volunteers and transfer their programs to this online platform;
* Direct CNCS to promote the online platform by conducting outreach to institutions of higher education, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and state and local governments; and
* Require a report from CNCS that details its use of funds provided by this bill and efforts to establish an online platform for Seniors Corps programs.
The bill is endorsed by AARP and Volunteers of America Minnesota and Wisconsin.
In April, Klobuchar and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced the Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act that would multiply the number of Americans who can serve each year through AmeriCorps, increase compensation to make it possible for all to serve as the country works to respond and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.