Edited by Rae Tamblyn, Research and Communications Analyst
As unemployment continued to rise and more families had to choose between meeting their basic needs or investing time and resources into finding a job in Hernando County, Mid Florida Community Services decided to revise and strengthen its existing Family Self-Sufficiency Program.
After evaluating their community needs assessment, Mid Florida Community Services created and enhanced partnerships with key local organizations and programs in Hernando County such as the local Workforce Development Center, the Head Start Program, other social service agencies, and academic institutions. These partnerships provide essential resources for supporting job-seekers through the major steps of a job search and enable them to overcome barriers to taking these steps. Mid Florida Community Services established new service sites throughout the community and strengthened the internal service system to formalize referral systems, communication between programs, and staff awareness of the array of services available. Because of this systems change, a CSBG-funded Family Self-Sufficiency Case Manager is now co-located in the Head Start Program to make it easier for families to learn about, access, and use services that benefit all members of the family.
The CAA’s increased outreach and partnerships successfully resulted in families experiencing an increase in employment. Debra Williams is one example of the many clients benefiting from the Family Self-Sufficiency Program. Debra Williams came to the program as a single mother struggling to meet her monthly expenses, care for her child, and complete an advanced degree in order to achieve living wage employment. In addition to gaining access to childcare, her primary expressed need, agency staff connected Ms. Williams with a case manager. With support from her case manager, Ms. Williams identified needed support services and accessed community resources that enabled her to move from being in a state of constant financial crisis to a more secure level of stability. Over the course of her involvement with the Family Self-Sufficiency Program and her case manager, Ms. Williams completed a Certified Nursing Assistant (C.N.A.) program and a Pharmacy Technician Program, gaining the advanced skills and training needed to obtain her current job as a full-time state certified Pharmacy Technician at a national pharmacy chain. The holistic approach of Mid Florida Community Services and their partners ensured that Ms. Williams was able to obtain not only subsidized childcare, but also access to supportive resources that enabled her to achieve self-sufficiency. This bundled services approach invests in meeting clients’ immediate needs and in assisting them as they work towards their long-term goals.
Nationwide, over 1,000 Community Action Agencies (CAAs) work to strategically target the root causes of poverty at the local level and to impact health and economic security on a national scale. Our ability to tell the stories of the unique ways our network of agencies have changed clients’ lives and our ability to quantify how we serve low-income communities across the nation sets us apart. Over 99 percent of the counties in the country have a local Community Action Agency (CAA) whose purpose is to reduce poverty by taking a comprehensive approach to each individual, family, and community.