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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Lack of personnel impairs services for elderly population

Sen. Elizabeth Rosa Vélez

By The Star Staff

Sen. Elizabeth Rosa Vélez said Wednesday that the island Family Department only has a social worker and a conflict mediator in its PROSPERA program.

PROSPERA is the program attached to the Child Support Administration (ASUME by its Spanish acronym) through which people 60 years of age or older who require support can request economic assistance from their adult descendants.

Rosa Vélez filed a request for information to Family Secretary Carmen Ana González Magaz so that she could explain what is going on with the program.

“I filed a request for information with the Family secretary to answer the Senate within 10 days about the reality of the PROSPERA program,” Rosa Vélez said. “We all know that in Puerto Rico the elderly population is on the rise, and the government is responsible for guaranteeing this population a dignified life. However, the agency in charge of assisting and helping our elderly is allegedly inoperative. It is outrageous.”

The lack of personnel in the program threatens the possibility that people over 60 get the support they need through support payments or caregiving. The only recourse for establishing support payments is through an administrative mediation, which can mean monetary contributions or helping with household chores, establishing care shifts, and ensuring that the elderly parents receive medical care, among other measures.

“Seniors are also supposed to receive through the program free legal representation to ensure the best welfare of the person. However, with only one social worker and one conflict mediator for the 78 municipalities, it is impossible to help anyone who needs the services,” Rosa Vélez said. “This government has to be sensitive to the needs of our elderly who gave their best to contribute to the country. From the Senate, we exercise our duty to supervise the agencies so that they comply with their obligations and services.”

The senator said she wants to know the program’s budget, how many employees it has and how many contractors, the number of cases attended and pending, to name several areas of concern.

“This information is vital to know if the program is indeed fulfilling its purpose,” she said. “As a social worker, I know the sad reality in which our elderly live, so I will provide constant follow-up to ensure that the program serves this population in such great need.”

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