Community action: Helping people, strengthening communities

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As residents across Connecticut struggle to make ends meet in one of the richest states in the nation, our Community Action Agency (CAA) Network is on their side. Through critical Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funding, CAAs — the state and federal designated antipoverty agencies— provide cost-efficient and programmatic-effective essential, basic human needs services like food, shelter, heating assistance, employment and training, and child care to the state’s low and moderate income communities in all 169 cities and towns.

Connecticut’s income disparities are palpable with the second-highest rate of income inequality, and our economy shrank in 2017 for the second consecutive year. Last year, 293,840 people — individuals, youth, single parents, the working poor, disabled, and seniors —from 125,720 families came through our doors asking for help.

Through a customer-focused, multi-generational, integrated approach to service delivery, Community Action Agencies assessed applicants for any program or service they may be eligible for. This thorough assessment not only addressed their immediate needs but also helped them set short and long-term goals, and a realistic plan of action moving forward. By removing obstacles and creating opportunities, our agencies efficiently and effectively equip customers with the tools and resources they need to thrive and build better lives for themselves and their children.

The results? Here is a small snapshot: More than 7,000 people went back to work; over 4,000 obtained and/or maintained safe and affordable housing; 100 percent of children enrolled in preschool activities demonstrated improvement in school readiness skills; and, our seniors, who represent over 20 percent of our customers, were allowed to stay in their homes by help they receive with their heating costs and nutritious food.

Connecticut’s Community Action Agency Network is the state’s safety net. For over 50 years, CAAs have continued to help those in need and the state solve problems, avoid crises, and save money. While the Connecticut General Assembly will hear the state’s plan for the Community Services Block Grant today, let them be assured that these CSBG funds work for thousands of their constituents.

For every $1 of CSBG funds, CAAs leverage $30.97 from federal, state, local, and private resources, including the value of volunteer hours. As part of the only comprehensive antipoverty effort in the country, Connecticut’s Community Action Agencies remain deeply committed to working for and on behalf our poorest residents—bringing progress and shared prosperity to those that need it most.

Edith Pollock Karsky is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Association for Community Action (CAFCA), the state association for Connecticut’s Community Action Agencies, the statewide network of antipoverty agencies that serve more than 293,800 people statewide per year. Visit www.cafca.org/our-network to find your local Community Action Agency.


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