Indiana Community Action Network E-newsletter
April 2017 issue



An Update from IIWF:
The Status of Paid Family
& Medical Leave in Indiana

Rep. Todd Rokita Talks CAAs and the Community Services Block Grant at NCAF Legislative Conference

NWICA Honored by the Urban League of Northwest Indiana

CAPWI JAG Students Spend Evening with Indiana's Political Leaders at the White County Lincoln Day Dinner

SIEOC Head Start Receives Playground Awning Through Tyson Fund Grant

Sen. Donnelly Visits CAPE Head Start Students

Miss Indiana Visits Pace
Head Start


FREE Training Available on May 12: Learn How to Use INK Data in Your Research


REAL Services Thanks Outstanding AmeriCorps Volunteer

Area IV Agency’s Energy Assistance Program Helps Client Avert Crisis

Submission information


An Update from IIWF:
The Status of Paid Family & Medical Leave in Indiana

Late in 2016, Indiana Institute for Working Families released a report on paid family and medical leave. The report included data and policy recommendations, such as advocating for state involvement in the provision of a paid family and medical leave insurance program that would be available to all Hoosier workers.

Several states have seen success with state-administered family leave insurance programs that are paid for by employee contributions. Businesses in California have found it reduced turnover—saving them money in hiring and training—and increased morale and productivity.

This program also helps reduce reliance on public assistance, according to a study by Rutgers University. The study found that compared with women who took unpaid leave for the birth of a child, women who took paid medical leave had a 39-percent lower likelihood of receiving welfare and a 40-percent lower likelihood of receiving food stamps one year following their return to work.

Did You Know?

  • People accrue an average of more than $300,000 in wage and benefit losses over their lifetimes if they drop out of the workforce to care for family members.
  • Indiana welcomes about 85,000 babies each year, yet only 14 percent of workers nationwide—and 6 percent of workers in the lowest-wage quartile—have jobs offering paid family leave.
  • The Council for Disability Awareness suggests that a quarter of today’s 20-year-olds will experience a disabling event before they retire, yet 75 percent of low-wage service workers lack short and/or long-term disability insurance through their employers.

This legislative session, the Indiana General Assembly took a step toward addressing these problems by passing SB 253, a bill calling for a study on ways to expand access to paid family and medical leave for working Hoosiers. When legislators meet this summer, they will hear about different options for ensuring more Hoosiers are able to care for their families and themselves, while contributing to the Indiana economy.

The Institute appreciates the calls and e-mails our followers made to move this legislation along and asks folks to encourage and thank Gov. Eric Holcomb for his signature on this bill.

The Institute looks forward to being a part of the discussion on paid family and medical leave this summer and beyond.

Join our e-mail list to receive updates on this and other issues affecting working families!

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Rep. Todd Rokita Talks CAAs and the Community Services Block Grant at NCAF Legislative Conference

More than 600 Community Action Agency board members and employees were excited to hear Rep. Todd Rokita of Indiana’s 4th Congressional District (pictured at right) speak at the March 30 National Community Action Foundation’s (NCAF) Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. 

Rokita expressed his appreciation for the Community Action Agency network and its efforts to help people overcome poverty. A substantial part of his speech included comments about his prior visits to Area IV Agency on Aging and Community Action Programs and the Community Action Program of Western Indiana (CAPWI), when he met with staff members. In his closing remarks, he stated his commitment to co-sponsoring the Community Services Block Grant reauthorization legislation in 2017.

Following his presentation, Rokita met privately with David Bradley, co-founder and chief executive officer of the NCAF, and representatives of Ohio Valley Opportunities in Madison, Ohio; JobSource in Anderson, Ind.; Community Action Program of Evansville (CAPE) in Evansville; and the Indiana Community Action Association (IN-CAA) in Indianapolis.

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NWICA Honored by the Urban League of
Northwest Indiana

Northwest Indiana Community Action (NWICA) was the proud recipient of the Workforce Diversity Award at the fifth annual Diversity and Inclusion Awards Luncheon hosted by the Urban League of Northwest Indiana on Thursday, March 23.

The luncheon recognized NWICA and five other regional leaders that incorporate diversity and inclusion in their organizations and local communities.

The six awards included:
• Community Award
• Leadership Award
• Workforce Diversity Award
• Moving the Needle Award
• Youth Award
• Lifetime Achievement Award

NWICA submitted its application based on the belief that a diverse workplace includes more than just the color of a person’s skin. To truly have a diverse workplace, an organization must do more than recognize the value of differences in ability, perspectives, age, skin color and cultures. It must also intentionally promote inclusiveness and recognize the past while combating discrimination.

NWICA’s application noted the work that Community Action Agencies do to attack the roots of poverty. In terms of workforce diversity, this includes recruiting and hiring individuals from within our programs and service areas. In doing so, we are investing in a diverse workforce that is rich in compassion for community and multiple perspectives. NWICA provided evidence of active initiatives that support employee participation in workshops, conferences or services that promote diversity and inclusion, as well as professional-development opportunities for underrepresented populations.

NWICA strives to live the promise to care about the entire community and dedicates itself to helping people help themselves and each other. Though we embrace further opportunities for improvement in our efforts to be a truly diverse and inclusive organization, we are proud of the progress we have made. We look forward to continuing the conversation within our organization, our network and the broader community.

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CAPWI JAG Students Spend Evening with
Indiana's Political Leaders at the White County Lincoln Day Dinner

Thanks to a generous table sponsorship by Sen. Brandt Hershman, Community Action Program, Inc. of Western Indiana’s Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) students from Twin Lakes High School were able to attend this year’s annual White County Lincoln Day Dinner on March 22 in Monticello, Ind.

Christine Shaffer, the JAG specialist at the Community Action Program, Inc. of Western Indiana (CAPWI), accompanied the JAG students to the exciting event, which included a keynote speech by Gov. Eric Holcomb. In addition, the students enjoyed meet-and-greet opportunities with various city, county and state officials, including Hershman, whom they were excited to meet and thank in person.

At the end of the event, the students asked if they could meet the governor.

“JAG kids are fearless!” Christine said. “They each shook his hand, introduced themselves and gave their views on the topics he discussed in his speech....I am confident that our future is going to be bright, because I spent the evening with our governor and some of the most caring young leaders in our community.”

What is JAG?

JAG is a state-based, national non-profit organization dedicated to assisting students with barriers to success by helping them overcome academic challenges in a path toward graduation. The Indiana program recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary with a gathering at the Indiana Statehouse. Since its inception, more than 17,000 Hoosiers have participated in JAG, which has a 94 percent graduation rate.

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SIEOC Head Start Receives Playground Awning Through Tyson Fund Grant

The children in the Head Start program of the Southeastern Indiana Economic Opportunity Corporation (SIEOC) in Versailles, Ind., are excited to have a new Sunsetter Awning for their playground, thanks to a generous gift made possible by a grant from the Tyson Fund. The awning will protect the children and their teachers during Indiana’s hot summers and give them a place to enjoy many activities.

The Tyson Fund was established in 1930 by James H. Tyson, a Versailles native who went on to become a co-founder of the national drug store chain Walgreens. He never married or had children, so he established this fund before he passed away. During its first year, the fund awarded an estimated $20,000, and, since then, it has bestowed more than $9.5 million to churches, schools, public works projects and non-profit organizations in the town of Versailles. 

SIEOC leaders say they are very thankful for the Tyson Fund, which is a prime example of how communities are working together to improve the lives of children and families.

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Sen. Donnelly Visits CAPE Head Start Students

Originally published on
By Kenny Douglass (Digital Content Producer)

Sen. Joe Donnelly was away from Capitol Hill on Thursday, March 16, greeting Head Start students at the Community Action Program of Evansville (CAPE) as part of his "Donnelly Days" events.

Read the rest of the article at

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Miss Indiana Visits Pace Head Start

Students of the Pace Community Action Agency’s Head Start program were delighted to get a visit from a special visitor—Miss Indiana Brianna DeCamp—on Feb. 27. 

She visited every classroom, read stories and even ate lunch with the children. Every child was given books to take home, as this was a Read Across America event

Brianna is from Kendallville, Ind. She was crowned Miss Indiana on June 18, 2016.

She is a 2016 graduate of Miami University (Ohio) with a bachelor’s degree in special education, something Pace leaders said was apparent in the wonderful ways she interacted with the children.

Pace leaders expressed their heartfelt thanks for her visit.  

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FREE Training Available on May 12:
Learn How to Use INK Data in Your Research

Are you interested in using education and workforce data for research?

Join the Indiana Network of Knowledge (INK) at the Indiana Government Center on Friday, May 12, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
to get:
• An overview of INK
• Training on how to access the data
• Examples of how you can use INK’s longitudinal data to enhance your research.

Event Details

Friday, May 12

Indiana Government Center South, Conference Room A
302 W. Washington, Indianapolis, IN 46204


1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

RSVP by April 28

Visit the INK website to learn more about the organization before the training. If you have questions, you can e-mail

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REAL Services Thanks its Outstanding
AmeriCorps Volunteer

This year, the REAL Services team has had the honor of having its first AmeriCorps volunteer join its Community Action team. Jackie Lincoln (pictured at right) started at REAL Services in November 2016 and has since become an invaluable member of the team, providing full-time volunteer service every week.

One of REAL Services’ main initiatives is to increase financial education opportunities for low-income families in St. Joseph County – something to which Jackie has greatly contributed through her involvement in the organization’s Team Heat Program, part of its Family Development Program.

The Family Development Program at REAL Services partnered with United Way of St. Joseph County to launch Team HEAT, which matches each $50 participants pay toward their heating bills. The program is linked to case management and has financial education requirements.

When Jackie arrived, she hit the ground running as a wonderful Team HEAT case manager, using her lifetime of clerical skills to help clients and build relationships with other programs in the local community. Jackie’s volunteer service and commitment enables REAL Services to serve more people in the Team HEAT program and connect them to the Energy Assistance Program as well. By participating in both programs, REAL Services keeps clients from getting behind on their bill payments.

Thanks to the AmeriCorps partnership and volunteers like Jackie, REAL Services is better able to serve its community.

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Area IV Agency’s Energy Assistance Program
Helps Client Avert Crisis

Kim Widner, Energy Assistance Program Coordinator, (pictured on right) shares her experience assisting a weary client with the dignity she deserved.

A recent Friday started out like every other day at Area IV Agency on Aging and Community Action Programs. Energy Assistance Program (EAP) staff members were working through disconnected electric company notices, trying to keep families from losing power in their homes, just as cold weather was expected over the weekend.

Everyone had been helped, and staff members were preparing to leave when one last person walked in, with tears flowing down her cheeks.

When I asked how I could help, the woman (overcome with emotion and unable to make eye contact) responded, “I need help with my electric bill. They’re going to shut me off today, and it’s supposed to snow this weekend. I don’t know what to do.”

I welcomed her into my office and began filling out an application for energy assistance. The entire time, she sobbed and apologized for bothering me. I told her she wasn’t bothering me, and I wanted to help.

“This is so embarrassing,” she said. “I shouldn’t be asking for help. I don’t know how I got into this situation.”

The woman explained she was in the middle of a divorce and recently lost a well-paying job when she had an extended illness. For a while, she was able to pay her mortgage and utility bills, but, with the job loss, she began falling behind on her bills. She was receiving some child support and SNAP benefits to help put food on the table, but she had not been able to find another job.

As I began to explain what documentation she would need to apply for the EAP, I found she had done her research and brought everything that was needed.

Then we hit a road block.

To qualify for EAP benefits, the utility bill must be in a household member’s name, and, at the time, the electric bill was still in her husband’s name. As she thanked us for trying and prepared to leave, an intake worker told her to wait a moment while they called the utility company to see if the bill could be switched into her name. A phone call was made to the electric company, and we explained the situation to a customer service representative. The representative said it wouldn’t be a problem, and arrangements were made for the account switch. The deposit was negotiated so she didn’t have to pay immediately, which helped to cancel the disconnection.

In addition to the issues with her electric bill, the client went on to explain she had been using electric heaters for more than nine months, since the gas company had turned off her furnace after a small fire happened in her garage. We wanted to make sure this family had a safe and warm home, so we contacted the gas company’s customer service department to see what needed to be done to restore the gas service. The gas company representative informed us that a deposit would be required to restore the service.

Again, the client thanked us for helping her but said she didn’t have the money to pay a deposit. However, since she was a homeowner, we utilized regular, crisis and state funding to get the account in her name and reestablish the service.

The client repeatedly stated how grateful she was for our assistance, and especially that she had put her pride aside and come to Area IV for help.

Area IV’s mission statement calls us to “make the best use of all financial and human resources, with compassion and respect for the dignity of each individual served.” The Energy Assistance Program team fulfilled this mission on that Friday afternoon by helping to eliminate a crisis and unneeded stress for this woman and her family.

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