Key Takeaways

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

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 25 SCSEP offices throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. NCOA’s work on SCSEP is funded at a 90% level by the U.S. Department of Labor and 10% is supported through matching non-federal dollars. 1

SCSEP Success by the Numbers

  • 65,081 low-income older Americans received paid training in FY15
  • More than 2,000 public and nonprofit agencies (like libraries and senior centers) are supported with more than 34 million staff hours
  • 51% of participants gained unsubsidized employment following the program
  • $820 million in community service has been provided by SCSEP participants – nearly twice the total appropriation for the program
  • 88% of participants reported the same or better physical health while working
  • 72% reported a better outlook on life while working

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.

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

To be eligible for SCSEP, you must be:

  • 55 or older
  • Unemployed
  • Living on a family income of no more than 125% of the federal poverty level (if you’re not sure, contact a local SCSEP office)

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.

Who participates in SCSEP?

  • 32% are 65 or older; 13% are 70 or older
  • 65% are women; 49% are a racial or ethnic minority; 20% have at least one disability
  • 43% have one or more years of college; 39% have a high school diploma; 18% do not have a high school diploma
  • 13% are veterans or qualified spouses
  • 28% live in rural areas

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):

  • Contact Tracing for COVID-19
  • 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 COVID-19 Contact Tracer. Can SCSEP help?

Yes, we have just begun a new initiative to connect SCSEP participants with employers looking to hire COVID-19 Contact Tracers. There is great need of a special remote workforce. NCOA will provide certified online contact tracing training from the Association of State & Territorial Health Officials and the World Health Organization and connect you to employers willing to hire Contact Tracers. If you’re interested, please contact us to find your local SCSEP office.

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 elderly and disabled persons 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.

Information for employers looking to 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 elderly and disabled persons 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 2021, NCOA will administer the Senior Community Service Employment Program through a grant from the Department of Labor – Education and Training Administration. The total value of the grant is $38,876,742, of which $34,989,068(90%) is federally funded and $3,887,674 (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 PY2021 Grant Total Minimum In-Kind Obligation
SER Jobs for Progress, CA $1,307,113 $163,390
Felton Institute $897,734 $178,663
Peninsula Family Services $1,186,160 $148,270
The Legacy Link $4,591,455 $579,020
Southwestern Community Action Council (KY grant) $218,536 $27,317
Northwestern Kentucky Community Action Council $1,353,634 $169,205
Big Sandy Community Action Program $451,138 $56,393
PathStone Corporation (New Jersey grant) $3,633,135 $454,145
NYC Department for the Aging $1,307,113 $369,881
PathStone Corporation (New York grant) $683,740 $85,468
PathStone Corporation (Ohio grant) $1,362,938 $170,368
PathStone Corporation (Pennsylvania grant) $3,009,761 $376,221
Luzerne/Wyoming Area Agency on Aging $506,962 $150,170
Crispus Attucks Association $618,765 $77,346
Westmoreland County Community College $1,027,991 $128,499
PathStone Corporation (Puerto Rico grant) $2,563,165 $320,396
Region 8 Planning & Development Council (VA grant) $153,407 $19,179
PathStone Corporation (Virginia grant) $506,962 $63,371
The SkillSource Group $1,260,593 $261,737
Southwestern Community Action Council (WV grant) $1,763,014 $289,686
Region 8 Planning & Development Council (WV grant) $479,050 $59,882