Los Angeles County Wednesday celebrated the establishment of the Aging and Disabilities Department as part of the branching off of the dissolved Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services.
Laura Trejo, the former WDACS executive director overseeing aging and community services, was appointed the newly established department’s first director. The department combines programs involving aging, disability and community that were previously performed by WDACS and the county Chief Executive Office. County officials said creating a separate department will enable greater focus and optimize services.
“After years of hard work, we now have a county department dedicated entirely to addressing the needs of older adults and individuals with disabilities,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a statement. “No longer will we be relying on a fragmented approach to helping these residents — one where they had to navigate many different county departments to get the services they need. Instead, with this new department, we will be more agile and more responsive to the changing needs of our residents, and more proactive about shaping policy to make L.A. County a place that is more age-friendly and inclusive of all abilities.”
The Aging and Disabilities Department has two commissions — the Los Angeles County Commission for Older Adults and the Commission on Disabilities — in addition to managing the 14 community and senior centers in the county. It also has 490 budgeted positions. By 2030, the number of older adults in Los Angeles County is expected to be more than double the number from 2000, and one in five county residents will be 65 or older in eight years.
“The new Aging and Disabilities Department comes at a time when our county has a renewed commitment to support the most vulnerable among us,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said. “As so many residents navigate increased physical challenges, mental health struggles, and economic barriers, this innovative new department will meet people’s needs exactly where they are with tools and techniques that are tailormade for them.”
Trejo said she was honored to lead the department.
“Today we celebrate a new chapter in serving older adults and adults with disabilities in the County of Los Angeles,” she said. “Thank you to the Board of Supervisors for giving us this opportunity to ensure that the people we serve live with dignity and independence.”
The supervisors voted to create a new county department dedicated to aging and disability services in April, with the department launched ahead of its targeted start date of October. The department also announced several programs on Wednesday, July 20, that include reimbursing volunteer drivers, fall-prevention services, housing assistance and a disability information line.