Laws and Executive Orders
Minority elders have a legal right of access to federally funded services and programs. This section provides information about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which governs this access; the Older Americans Act which provides for programs and services to elders; and the Executive Orders that facilitate access to other government-funded programs and services for minorities.
It is important for service providers to understand these laws and orders, as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 affects how the Federal government and its grantees administer programs. Service providers of Older Americans Act sponsored programs are bound by the anti-discrimination provisions of the Civil Rights Act. Likewise, obligations that federal agencies must meet under an Executive Order are extended to grantees of the federal agency.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides, "no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." 42 U.S.C. 2000d.
To read the Civil Rights Act in full, see
This means that elders cannot be denied access to federally funded health care, public assistance, or other social services based on race, color, or national origin. For more information, see the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights fact sheet, "Your Rights under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964."
The Older Americans Act of 1965, As Amended (OAA)
The Older Americans Act (OAA) was enacted in 1965 to give older Americans increased opportunities to fully participate in the benefits of American society. Over three decades later, it continues to be a major influence on programs for older Americans. The OAA established the Administration on Aging (AoA) which awards grants to States and tribal organizations to develop comprehensive and coordinated supportive and nutrition services that meet the needs of older persons and improve the quality of their lives. The States then award these funds to area agencies on aging (AAAs) for community planning, advocacy, and services that help older persons.
Title III of the OAA requires that the States and AAAs target services toward those elderly individuals with the greatest economic or social need, particularly low-income minority elderly. The State must set specific objectives for providing services to low-income minority older individuals and undertake specific program and outreach efforts to focus on the needs of those individuals. Title VI of the Act specifically addresses the needs of elderly Native Americans in this context. In addition, the OAA requires that AAAs develop plans that take into consideration the number of low-income minority individuals residing in an area and set specific objectives regarding providing services to low-income minority individuals. Also, the AAA must provide an assurance that provider agencies satisfy the service needs of low-income minority individuals.
To read the Older Americans Act, as Amended (OAA), click here:
The President issues Executive Orders to Agencies within the Executive Branch of government to aid in the administration of the law. It is important for providers who are recipients of federal funding to be aware of these Orders, as the obligations that a Federal Agency incurs as the result of an Executive Order are extended to Agency grantees.
Below you will find brief descriptions of Executive Orders that address the concerns of minority groups, along with links to the Orders and their corresponding web sites. First is an Executive Order that requires federal agencies to have a plan to make their programs accessible to people with limited English proficiency. In addition, you are provided with Orders that address minority access to educational opportunities, and an Executive Order to increase participation of Asian American and Pacific Islanders in all federal programs.
Executive Order 13166
"Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency"
Minority elders may have a difficult time accessing federally funded programs and services due to a lack of proficiency in the English language. To address this concern, President Clinton issued Order 13166, requiring that each federal agency prepare a plan by December 11, 2000, to improve access to its federally conducted programs and activities by limited English proficiency (LEP) persons.
In response to the Executive Order, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights (HHS/OCR) issued written policy guidelines. The guidelines define the legal responsibilities of providers who receive federal monies, and outline a range of flexible options available to agencies to comply with the law. To read Executive Order 13166, or guidelines issued by both DOJ and HHS/OCR, go to the address listed above.
Executive Order 12876
"Historically Black Colleges and Universities"
Executive Order 12900
"Hispanic Serving Institutions"
Executive Order 13021
"Tribal Colleges and Universities"
Overall, the goals of these Orders are to increase participation of minority students in federal education programs; strengthen the capacity of educational institutions that serve minority students to provide excellence in education; and to improve recruitment of minority students for federal employment. These Orders are important to providers and minority elders as they result in improved research on minority issues, better educated minority students, and increased employment opportunities for minorities. This in turn will lead to a delivery of federal services to minority elders in a more culturally competent and sensitive manner. To view the Orders and their corresponding web sites, see the address below each Order.
Executive Order 13125
"Increasing Participation of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Federal Programs"
President Clinton signed this Executive Order to improve the quality of life of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) through increased participation in all Federal programs where AAPIs may be underserved. This goal is to be achieved through increasing and improving research about AAPI populations and subpopulations, providing culturally competent outreach to AAPIs, and increasing AAPI participation in Department of Health and Human Services training and employment. To learn more, go to the AAPI web site at the above address.