Key Takeaways

  • The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) is the nation’s oldest program to help low-income, unemployed individuals age 55+ find work.

  • Discover who is eligible for SCSEP and how you can apply.

  • Learn about the types of training and employment opportunities SCSEP provides.

Created in 1965, the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) is the nation’s oldest program to help low-income, unemployed people age 55+ find work. In addition to helping mature workers find job placement, SCSEP helps older adults find financial stability, ultimately leading to better health and quality of life.

What is the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)?

SCSEP matches eligible older adults with part-time training assignments for nonprofit organizations. Participants build skills and self-confidence, while earning a modest income. For most, their SCSEP experience leads to permanent employment.

How is the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) funded?

SCSEP is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and is one of three federal workforce development programs that does not overlap with any other similar program. The program serves nearly every county in the nation. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) manages 24 SCSEP offices throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Of NCOA’s work on SCSEP, 90% is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, and 10% is supported through non-federal dollars.

SCSEP success by the numbers

  • More than 90% of surveyed SCSEP participants reported the same or better physical health while working1
  • About 76% reported a better outlook on life while working1

Without SCSEP I wouldn't be able to support myself while I get more training to be able to get a good job. This program has become a life saver for me. I can't begin to tell you how important it is to me and my quality of life. Although we're older, all we need is a chance to prove ourselves that we can still work hard and SCSEP gives us that chance, our foot in the door to prove ourselves. - SCSEP participant

Who participates in SCSEP?

  • 42% are 65 or older; 6% are 70 or older
  • 66% are women; 64% are a racial or ethnic minority; 28% have at least one disability
  • 35% have one or more years of college; 84% have a high school diploma; 16% do not have a high school diploma
  • 8% are veterans or qualified spouses; 16% live in rural areas

What are the eligibility requirements for an older adult to qualify for SCSEP?

To be eligible for SCSEP, you must be:

The training has been invaluable, uplifted and boosted my self confidence, and the pay has helped me to pay my bills in a timely fashion, instead of juggling like I usually have to." - SCSEP participant

How SCSEP helped a homeless veteran find a job and ultimately financial stability

Many older adults continue to work into retirement, often out of financial necessity. But for some it's absolutely necessary. Danny B was a homeless veteran living in the Bay Area in California in desperate need of shelter and medical care. After consulting with the Felton Institute and applying for the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), he found an unsubsidized employment opportunity. Danny credits his newfound wholeness to the San Franscisco SCSEP staff who encouraged him to keep going and to never give up. And through Jump Start, a two-week workforce development workshop, he gained valuable job skills, like conducting a virtual interview on the phone and posting a resume online.

With the support of SCSEP, Danny found a job in hospitality in September 2021. He brought his apron to the interview, letting the hiring manager know he was ready to work as soon as possible, and they offered him the job on the spot. This is just one SCSEP success story. Your story could also be like Danny's.

How do I apply for SCSEP?

To apply, simply find your local SCSEP office to complete an application. If you’re eligible and there is no waiting list, you will be enrolled to train at a non-profit organization in your community. **Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.

What kind of training can I get through SCSEP?

You will be trained in all the skills you need to do your job, including using a computer. You will serve in a vital community service position such as (but not limited to):

  • Child care provider
  • Customer service representative
  • Teachers’ aide
  • Computer technician
  • Building maintenance worker
  • Health care worker

What are the hours and pay in SCSEP?

You will train an average of 20 hours a week and earn whichever is highest—the federal, state, or local minimum wage. Most participants are trained by the SCSEP for about six months before we help them find a permanent job.

I’d like to work as a direct care worker. Can SCSEP help?

Yes. NCOA pioneered a program to train mature workers to be direct care providers to older adults and disabled people who need non-medical assistance in their home. If you’re interested, please contact us to find your local SCSEP office.

Where can I get more information about SCSEP?

You can learn more about SCSEP at the U.S. Department of Labor.

How can employers participate in SCSEP?

As an employer, SCSEP can help you find trained and qualified mature workers to fill important jobs in your organization.

How can my organization participate in SCSEP?

If you’re a nonprofit or public facility, you might be eligible to become a SCSEP training site. To be a training site, you must:

  • Have appropriate training for older workers
  • Offer diverse and quality training opportunities
  • Meet NCOA safety standards

Can SCSEP train mature workers to meet my organization’s exact needs?

Yes. We work directly with employers to provide qualified mature workers trained to their requirements. The program is called On-the-Job Experience (OJE). Through OJE, the local SCSEP project agrees to pay all or part of a mature worker’s wages while he or she is being trained. Paperwork is kept to a minimum. The mature worker must be eligible for SCSEP, and certain limitations apply.

I’m looking for mature workers to serve as direct care workers. Can SCSEP help?

Yes. We’re pioneering a program to train mature workers to be direct care providers to older adults and disabled people who need assistance in their home. We’re working with direct care agencies and PHI National to recruit and train mature workers to provide non-medical care. With a special grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, NCOA conducted a three-year pilot project to train and place 300 mature workers in health care occupations. Over the course of the pilot, we trained over 350 mature health care workers in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

I’m interested in hosting SCSEP workers. What do I do now?

If you’re interested in becoming a SCSEP training site, please contact us to find your local NCOA SCSEP office.

1 For program year 2022, NCOA will administer the Senior Community Service Employment Program through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor — Education and Training Administration (ETA). The total value of the grant is $38,624,134, of which $34,761,721 (90%) is federally funded and $3,624,134 (10%) is from non-federal funding. Below is a list of the subgrantees that also provide service delivery and includes subgrant total amounts and their non-federal contribution:

NCOA SCSEP Subgrant Totals and In-Kind Obligations PY2023 Grant Total Minimum In-Kind Obligation
SER Jobs for Progress, CA $1,306,192 $163,269
Felton Institute $899,206 $112,401
Peninsula Family Services $1,176,347 $147,044
The Legacy Link $4,563,498 $570,438
Southwestern Community Action Council (KY grant) $219,095 $27,387
Northwestern Kentucky Community Action Council $1,345,432 $168,179
Big Sandy Community Action Program $452,880 $56,610
PathStone Corporation (New Jersey grant) $3,608,547 $451,069
NYC Department for the Aging $1,297,375 $162,172
PathStone Corporation (New York grant) $685,464 $85,683
PathStone Corporation (Ohio grant) $1,354,003 $169,251
PathStone Corporation (Pennsylvania grant) $3,005,907 $375,739
Luzerne/Wyoming Area Agency on Aging $500,037 $62,505
Crispus Attucks Association $882,540 $93,524
Westmoreland County Community College $748,662 $99,926
PathStone Corporation (Puerto Rico grant) $2,552,110 $319,014
Workforce Essentials (Clarksville, Tennessee) $1,461,217 $182,653
PathStone Corporation (Virginia grant) $508,308 $63,539
The SkillSource Group $1,407,631 $175,954
Southwestern Community Action Council (WV grant) $1,743,801 $217,976
Region 8 Planning & Development Council (WV grant) $480,494 $60,062


1. U.S. Department of Labor. PY 2020 Nationwide Participant Evaluation of SCSEP. March 25, 2022. Found on the internet at

2. Participant statistics are a snapshot from the program year ending June 30, 2022.