TAMPA BAY, Florida - When state money to fund senior citizen services in Citrus County stopped flowing, program volunteers reached out to 10Investigates for help. And with a few phone calls, the team was able to help fix the problem.
The Senior Companion Program utilizes volunteers to take low-income seniors to appointments and to run errands. Volunteers get reimbursed 44.5 cents per mile, plus other expenses, through the state’s Department of Elder Affairs. But volunteers in Citrus County recently stopped receiving checks without explanation, threatening their ability to help.
Investigative reporter Noah Pransky contacted the Florida Elder Affairs office and received a quick response back.
“Thank you for bringing to our attention the delay in the payment of salaries to Senior Community Service Employment Program members working in Citrus County,” Richard Prudom, Deputy Secretary and Chief of Staff for Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs, wrote in an email. “The invoices from the provider were processed for payment last night and the individuals concerned should be paid in the next couple of days. More importantly, we will work with the provider to ensure that this does not happen again.”
10Investigates checked with one of the Citrus County volunteers and found that the checks were indeed mailed out. The Department of Elder Affairs along with the Senior Companion Program are evaluating their programs to make sure this does not happen again.