Indiana Community Action Network E-newsletter
March 2016 issue

 

NEWS

SCCAP Celebrates
50th Anniversary of
Head Start Program

CAPWI Celebrates
50th Anniversary

IN-CAA Partners Help Successfully Oppose New Harmful Payday Loan Product

IIWF Recaps General Assembly Actions Affecting Working Families

EVENTS

SCCAP Growing Opportunities Program Celebrates Second Class of Graduates

COMMUNITY IMPACT

Area IV Highlights its Weatherization Quality Control Inspectors

Submission information

 

Above: Laura Creed (top left) and her Head Start students are all smiles on Crazy Hair Day during Spirit Week at SCCAP’s main office in Bloomington.

SCCAP Celebrates 50th Anniversary
of Head Start Progra
m

The South Central Community Action Program (SCCAP) began the month of February with a 50th Anniversary of its Head Start program, a federally-funded, early-childhood program that serves children from birth to age 5. The celebration featured a week of spirit events, capped by parties with parents and students at all SCCAP Head Start classrooms.

When Head Start first began its classes in Bloomington on Feb. 14, 1966, it was mainly a home-based program with teachers visiting houses to offer services. Now, SCCAP Head Start has 11 sites throughout Monroe County where students and their parents can receive comprehensive services from health care and education to family services.

“Over the course of time, we have really focused on getting parents involved and engaged,” said Head Start Director Stacey Edwards. “This involves working on family and child goals, helping parents find jobs, teaching parents how to get involved in their children’s education and supporting them in going to school. The more parents are engaged, the better outcomes we see for their children.”

 

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CAPWI Celebrates 50th Anniversary
All invited to celebrate at April 8 annual dinner

In the early 1960s, the “invisible Americans,” the poor, first became visible to the eyes of the nation. They had existed all along, but the media brought them to living rooms all across the nation. Books that recorded the history of America’s disadvantaged became best sellers. Universities and foundations conducted studies on the problems of the poor. On Jan. 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a "War on Poverty.” As part of this declaration, Congress passed the Economic Opportunity Act (EOA) of 1964, which authorized the formation of local Community Action Agencies across the country. These agencies were to determine what would best solve their local poverty problems.

Community Action Program, Inc. of Western Indiana started out by applying for funds to start a low-income preschool program called Head Start. In 1965, a grant for three Head Start classes located in Fountain County was submitted in the amount of $4,850 and subsequently awarded in the amount of $7,862. On Feb. 17, 1966, the Community Action Program, Inc. of Fountain, Parke, Vermillion and Warren counties was incorporated. Soon after its incorporation, the agency received grants to begin the outreach and referral program to determine the needs of the community.  In 1967, an $18,421 Federal grant was received to fund the study and development of projects to aid the local financially underprivileged.  A summer Head Start program was launched in four of the counties. 

Today our agency has four divisions, nearly 20 programs and more than 150 rental properties throughout a six-county service area. Our funding started at $104,237 in 1966 and has grown to $14,120,000 in 2013.  Our governing board is comprised of 18 volunteers with proportional representation from each of the six counties we serve. We are proud of how far we have come in these 50 years. 

Help Us Celebrate at Our April 8 Annual Meeting & Awards Dinner!

Purchase tickets by March 25!

To commemorate our 50-year anniversary, the public is invited to an Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner on Friday, April 8, starting at 5:30 p.m. The event will take place at the Beef House Banquet Center in Covington. Charles McCann, Certified Community Action Professional (CCAP) Emeritus, will be our guest speaker. Tickets are on sale for $20 per person until Friday, March 25. To purchase tickets or get more information, contact the central office at (765) 793-4881. We hope you can join us!

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IN-CAA Partners Help Successfully Oppose New Harmful Payday Loan Product

Hoosier consumers had a major victory in the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee meeting on Thursday, Feb. 25, when an amendment to House Bill 1340 seeking to create a new high-priced installment loan product in Indiana was defeated by a bipartisan 6-2 vote. The bill came from the House as a proposal to study the effects of payday lending in Indiana, and the committee’s rejection of the proposed amendment keeps that study in place.

The product proposed in the Senate amendment would have been fundamentally unaffordable for Community Action clients, with a maximum borrowable amount of $1,000, a loan term of six months and a 15-percent interest rate charged on the origination amount each month of the loan’s duration. This would have meant a borrower would pay $150 in interest each month, totaling $900 over the course of the loan for a calculated APR of 265 percent. Calculations by the payday loan industry put the APR at 180 percent. While the two calculations differ, the fact remains that the proposed product had an unreasonably high interest rate.

Speaking against the product at the hearing were representatives from: Indiana Community Action Association (IN-CAA), Indiana Institute for Working Families (IIWF), Brightpoint, AMVETS, Indiana Catholic Conference, Indiana Association of United Ways, Indiana Association for Community Economic Development, and Indiana Assets and Opportunity Network.

“If our goal is to help people get good credit, the high interest rates in the proposed loan product would instead cause defaults and set people back,” said Kathy Williams, a representative of IN-CAA.
Jessica Fraser of IN-CAA’s Indiana Institute for Working Families said the proposed loan would mean more low-income families would qualify for unaffordable debt, adding, “We don't want to further jeopardize impoverished families on the economic brink with new payday loans.”

Steve Hoffman, President and CEO of Brightpoint in Fort Wayne, highlighted Brightpoint’s Community Loan Center’s new loan program, which provides loans up to $1,000 with annual percentage rates of 18 percent (plus a $20 origination fee) for up to a whole year.

Summing up the opposition to HB 1340, Hoffman said, “I'm proud of all the hard work our association and our partners have done in this effort and am really pleased with the result. This bill would have led to a damaging expansion of high-interest borrowing for our clients.”

While the bill moved on to the full Senate as a study committee, IIWF will remain vigilant against harmful payday products that may emerge in future legislation.

Right: Steve Hoffman, President and CEO of Brightpoint, testifying in opposition to HB 1340 at the Feb. 25 Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee meeting.

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IIWF Recaps General Assembly Actions Affecting Working Families

At the beginning of the year, the Indiana Institute for Working Families drew up a ‘gameplan’ of low- or no-cost policy options for the Indiana General Assembly to follow that would help restore economic opportunity for low-income Hoosier families. By the end of the legislative season, the Assembly missed several shots to make systemic improvements, but there were a few key wins for working families:

  • The Assembly made a slam dunk by expanding the state’s successful Individual Development Account program, which matches low-income Hoosiers’ savings toward a financial asset. With legislation captained by Senator Mark Messmer, IDAs will be able to be used to purchase vehicles for work or adult education, or for owner-occupied home rehab. In addition, IDA program eligibility will increase from 175 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, better aligning with what it takes to be self-sufficient in Indiana.
  • While the Institute recommended legislation for fairer payday lending payment plans and truth-in-lending rules, the Assembly narrowly avoided going in the opposite direction with dangerous new long-term payday loan products that commentators called "sanctioned exploitation" at "loan shark rates".
  • A better shot came when the Assembly passed HB 1248, including a provision to extend eligibility for the EARN Indiana work-study program to part-time adult students. These work-based learning opportunities will help adults get the inside track to good-paying jobs, and will team up well with Indiana’s new YouCanGoBack.org initiative for adults to complete degrees and credentials.

  • Following research showing that Indiana has more than 420,000 driver license suspensions, over half for non-safety reasons, the Assembly recommended a summer study of suspensions & reinstatements for the indigent. 

Read more

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SCCAP Growing Opportunities Program
Celebrates Second Class of Graduates

On Monday, Feb. 22, a crowd of excited parents, staff and other supporters gathered for a graduation ceremony, celebrating the second class of graduates who had completed 200 hours of greenhouse and classroom training in the Growing Opportunities job training program.

The ceremony took place at the Stone Belt gymnasium, adjacent to the Growing Opportunities greenhouse, and included personalized remarks on each of the eight students by Growing Opportunities Interim Manager Audrey Cyr.

Growing Opportunities is a social business project of the South Central Community Action Program (SCCAP). The program provides job-training opportunities on an urban, hydroponic farm for low-income people with barriers to employment, especially people with disabilities. The produce is sold to local eateries, supermarkets, hospitals and schools. The revenue helps make the project sustainable and increases the availability of fresh, local produce year-round in their community. 

Growing Opportunities lettuce and other produce can currently be found at Feast Bakery Cafe, Bloomingfoods East, Yogi's Grill & Bar, Mother Hubbard's Cupboard, Community Kitchen, and Center for Global Children. For more information about Growing Opportunities, contact Audrey Cyr at (812) 332-2168, ext. 281, or aucyr@insccap.org.

Read the personalized comments about each of the graduating students.

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Area IV Highlights its Weatherization
Quality Control Inspectors

Right: Mike DeVore is a Quality Control Inspector for Area IV.

The mission of Area IV Agency on Aging and Community Action Programs is “to foster a better quality of life for individuals, families and communities.”

An example of this mission at work is the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which provides energy audits of homes in order to help residents conserve energy and save money.

Quality Control Inspectors (QCI) play a leading role in the Weatherization Assistance Program, making a difference in people’s lives every day.

These inspectors have achieved their Quality Control Inspector certifications by the Building Performance Institute. They maintain their status by completing Continuing Education Units (CEUs) on a rolling, 12-month cycle. They must also fulfill standards established by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, fulfilled through classroom and field trainings offered by the Indiana Community Action Association (IN-CAA). Becoming Indiana Weatherization Competent requires passing both a written exam and a skills-verification event.

Every inspector is required to be in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP), as well as completing OSHA training. Area IV’s inspectors each hold an Indiana Lead Risk Assessor license through the Indiana State Department of Health. Semi-annually, these inspectors attend technical training where current trends and techniques are shared.

Part of their daily routine is being adept with a wide variety of equipment, including blower doors, infrared scanners and combustion analyzers used to determine the greatest energy savings while ensuring resident health and safety. These inspectors act as liaisons between the families and private contractors who install the weatherization measures. They ensure that materials and installation techniques are used to the standardized program guidelines.

Our inspectors are dedicated to helping people help themselves by reducing energy consumption in their homes and ensuring a safe and healthy environment.

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