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1500-005 1 of 2

In 1959, Congress passed legislation providing for a White House Conference on Aging to be held in January 1961 to address the problems of the nation’s elderly, and to request that grant funds be made available to support said initiative. To share these funds and participate in that conference, the Delaware Legislature concurrently passed legislation that greatly expanded the mission of the existing Board of Trustees of the State Welfare Home and Hospital for the Chronically Ill at Smyrna.1
Under the auspices of the Board, the Legislature created a Division of the Aging (and a Director) and a Delaware Citizen’s Council on Aging. (Note: Delaware Laws citations refer to the latter group as both Council on Aging and Council for the Aging, sometimes changing within the same cite, but the two groups are synonymous and the preferred title used by the group in their minutes is Council on Aging.)2
The new Director of the Division of Aging was to be supervised by the Board and also act as liaison between the Board and the Citizens Council. The Director also served as an ex officio member of the council.3
A sufficient number of members, preferably representatives of agencies directly or indirectly concerned with the problems of the aged, was to be appointed by the Board to serve as a Delaware Citizens Council on Aging. The Council was charged with fostering the formation of local community councils and providing support to them, as well as being an advisory group to the Board itself.4
In 1965, the Delaware Citizens Council on Aging was dissolved, and created in its place was the Commission for Aging. The fifteen members were gubernatorially appointed from fields such as education, religion, labor, corrections, guidance, and health, with one member to be chosen by the group as its executive director.5
The Commission was charged with the following responsibilities:

1. Maintain continual study and analysis of all aging trends and processes.
2. Maintain a continuous inventory of resources relevant to the aged and make them available.
3. Serve as a central permanent agency to coordinate programs instituted for the benefit of the aged.
4. Provide leadership and direction to persons both offering and receiving aid.
5. Serve as a communications clearinghouse for information on the aged.
6. Target the needs of the aged and address them using available resources.
7. Serve as a clearinghouse for federal or state funds available to the aged.
8. Foster interest in and establishment of local community councils to address the same concerns.6
The responsibilities of the Commission were assumed, in 1969, by the newly created Department of Health and Social Services, within which was also created a new seven-member Council on the Aging, carrying over members from the Commission. This new council served as an advisory group to the Director of Social Services.7 In 1973, the division of Aging was created within the Department of Health and Social Services, assuming the duties of the earlier Division of Aging and Commission on Aging. The Council on the Aging then became advisory group to the new Division.8 (Membership was raised to nine in 1976.)9 Its members were to be gubernatorially appointed, but evenly divided politically, in order to avoid party favoritism. Another interesting requirement was that 50% of the members were to be consumers of the very services they were to consider, and the remainder were to be representatives of private and public agencies utilizing those services. At present, the agency’s organization continues intact.

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1 52 DL, ch. 74.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 55 DL, ch. 158.

6 Ibid.

7 57 DL, ch. 301.

8 59 DL, ch. 136.

9 60 DL, ch. 525.
jrf/March 11, 1988; March 23, 1988
jrf/revised (added and combined 1500_3.2); October 4, 1988
December 29, 1988

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