Indiana Community Action Network E-newsletter
May 2017 issue

 

NEWS

Legislative Updates from IIWF

CAPWI Client Selected as Outstanding Participant in Workforce Development System of Indiana

Congressman Larry Bucshon Visits TRI-CAP

CFS Executive Director Meets with Congresswoman Susan Brooks

CAPE in the News

COMMUNITY IMPACT

Harry Hippie’s Visit to Dubois County Brings Joy to TRI-CAP and Others

Area IV’s Park Place Learning Center Prepares Kids for Kindergarten

NCCAA Becomes New Sponsor for Three Charitable Programs

Submission information

 

Legislative Updates From IIWF

At the beginning of the legislative session, the Indiana Institute for Working Families (IIWF) released its policy agenda detailing the missing pieces in Indiana’s economy. IIWF leaders gave testimony in 15 bill hearings and held more than 40 one-on-one meetings with lawmakers. Read about the pieces that were filled in and those that are still missing – plus one extra bill! See the blog for way more details.

Here’s a summary of the progress we’ve made:

  • A PATH TO SELF-SUFFICIENCY: Put families on a path to self-sufficiency by protecting them from high-cost payday loans and predatory lending products. Support asset-building and financial literacy training by increasing funding for individual development accounts (IDAs). 

    THE UPDATE:
    The Institute co-led efforts to kill SB 245, which would have allowed payday lenders to
    offer long term small loans at over 200 percent APR. Thanks to testimony from 18 advocates, including Jessica Fraser (Director, Institute for Working Families), Kathy Williams (IN-CAA Public Policy Consultant), Steve Hoffman (Director, Brightpoint), Justin Collins (State-Certified Homeownership and Foreclosure Prevention Counselor Housing & Personal Finance Services, Tri-Cap), the bill was defeated early on in the session with only one small revival attempt that was shut down. Unfortunately, the consumer protections in SB 474 Small loans (Melton), which was folded into SB 245, also died.

  • INVESTMENT IN TWO-GENERATION SOLUTIONS: Investments in Head Start, preschool and the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) ensure that young children continue to learn and grow while their parents work or seek further education. 

    THE UPDATE:
    HB 1004 Prekindergarten education was signed into law on April 26, 2017, and expands Pre-K to 15 additional counties, details income eligibility requirements (127-185 percent of FPL depending on the circumstances), and increases spending by $10 million including $1 million for an online preschool program. Institute staff testified three times on the powerful impact of Head Start in the state and the importance of ensuring that Pre-K investments maximized slots through close coordination with this federal-to-local program.

  • REMOVE BARRIERS TO ADULT EDUCATION & WORKFORCE TRAINING: Allow for better coordination of skills training, higher education and necessary support services. Increase support for the Indiana Adult Student Grant and the WorkINdiana training program and create Indiana’s first fund for job-driven adult literacy.

    THE UPDATE:
    HB 198 Career and technical education (Long) is the workforce bill that passed as a hybrid with HB 1008, which the Institute testified on once in the first part of the session. The Senate and House passed the bill unanimously and Governor Holcomb signed it into law on April 28, 2017. This is a great step in connecting Indiana employees with the thousands of openings for high-demand, high wage jobs.

  • ASSISTS & REBOUNDS: Help Hoosiers rebound more quickly from tough times by removing the asset test from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility requirements and raising Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) eligibility to 50 percent of the federal poverty level.

    THE UPDATE:
    SB 154 Removal of asset limits for SNAP eligibility (Merritt) was signed into law on April 25, 2017, increasing the asset limit to $5,000 and calling for a study of application errors. Stories from Community Action Families played a large role in helping lawmakers understand the need for reform to Indiana’s SNAP Asset test. SB 9 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and drug convictions (Merritt) made it through the Senate but did not move in the House. SB 527 TANF eligibility (Stoops) would have raised the eligibility limit and taken out the cash amounts listed in statute to keep up with inflation, but it was never acted on in committee.

  • QUALITY OF LIFE & QUALITY OF WORK: Ensures that all working Hoosiers can balance work, family and household budgets through policies that promote fair scheduling, paid leave and high-quality, well-paying jobs. 

    THE UPDATE:
    SB 253 Study of voluntary paid family and medical leave (Tallian) passed before the end of session and was signed into law April 13, 2017.

  • BUILD A MORE JUST HOOSIER ECONOMY, STARTING WITH EQUITABLE BUDGET CHOICES: Make equitable budget choices that remedy Indiana’s regressive tax structure, increase economic mobility for working families and promote a more just economy for all Hoosiers.

    THE UPDATE:
    HB 1001 Biennial budget (Brown) is a huge document (183 pages!), and it includes $22M/year for Pre-K with $1M/year earmarked for online Pre-K reimbursement, $300,000/year for food banks, $970,000/year for Individual Development Accounts, $5M/year for the WorkINdiana Program, and $7,579,858/year for adult student grants. HB 1002 Transportation infrastructure funding (Soliday) increased gas tax by $0.10 per gallon, created a new registration fee and moves gas sales tax funds to road funding over the next several years. Both bills were signed by the Governor on April 27, 2017.

  • BONUS BILL: SB 312 Use of criminal history information in hiring (Boots) will be signed by the Governor despite the Institute’s efforts to stop it. However, thanks in part to the Institute and other partners’ open letter, Governor Holcomb will also issue an executive order “banning the box” for State employees. Big victory!

Thanks for partnering with us by making calls and sending emails to lawmakers! Please keep sending stories about how Community Action Programs are affecting real Hoosier families. They truly make a difference in changing policy for the better for Hoosier working families.

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CAPWI Client Selected as Outstanding Participant in Workforce Development System of Indiana

Dawn Achor, a Community Action Program Inc. of Western Indiana (CAPWI) employee in its Employment and Training Division, knew she had a special client on her hands when she nominated Mandy Green for an achievement award.

On Tuesday, April 11, Mandy Green attended a special ceremony at the Indiana Statehouse where she was selected as an outstanding participant in the Workforce Development of Indiana program. This is an honor that’s bestowed on only 11 individuals out of thousands of participants. CAPWI leaders say they are very proud of Mandy and the staff members who worked with her throughout her journey to success. Mandy’s hard work and dedication is an inspiration to all Hoosiers.

Mandy’s Story

On September 10, 2015, a then 22-year-old Mandy came to a Ready to Work informational meeting at the American Job Center/WorkOne office in Lafayette. She was recently out of jail, unemployed and had no transportation. She was staying in a halfway house called Home for Hope when she heard about the Ready to Work (RTW) program.

Mandy came to CAPWI with little work experience and two felonies. She had been working hard to not continue down the path she had been going and decided to make the changes necessary to better her life. She co-enrolled in the Youth, Adult and RTW American Job Center programs. She expressed an interest in the medical field, but, due to her criminal background, this wasn’t an option. Through intensive case management, CAPWI staff members worked together with Mandy to discover that advanced manufacturing would be a career pathway she could pursue.

Mandy took all necessary assessments for the Youth, Adult and RTW programs. She successfully participated and completed Employability Skills Training with the RTW Career Coach.

Mandy’s Youth Case Manager Trish Malady said, “Mandy is smart, dependable and eager to learn what it takes to succeed in her career choices!”

On September 28, Mandy began occupational skills training with Purdue Polytechnic-Lafayette, where she attended a paid, four-week, hands-on advanced manufacturing training class. On October 30, she earned an Advanced Manufacturing Standardized Work Certificate from Purdue Polytechnic-Lafayette and began an internship with Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. (SIA). SIA eventually hired her full time on July 18, 2016.

Learn more about Mandy’s journey to an SIA career in the March 2017 e-news.

“Throughout the program, Mandy was a first-class client for all of our American Job Center programs,” said Dawn Achor. “She was punctual, friendly, eagerly participated and always maintained contact with all her case managers at WorkOne-Lafayette.”

Today, Mandy has been substance free for two years. She works full-time, receives benefits and is overall self-sufficient. Occasionally, Mandy comes in and talks to other classes about her RTW experience, including the barriers she had to overcome.

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Congressman Larry Bucshon Visits TRI-CAP

It was a special treat for the TRI-CAP Boonville facility when U.S. Congressman Dr. Larry Bucshon (pictured on right) stopped by on April 13 to visit the Head Start children and meet with TRI-CAP leaders.

After joining the Head Start children in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, Bucshon took a few moments to explain to the preschoolers what the words of our national Pledge of Allegiance mean. He told them he was committed to serving them and their families’ best interests. 
 
During his visit, Bucshon heard personal stories and was given detailed research that showed the impact of TRI-CAP services:

  • A local veteran shared how his children are enrolled in the TRI-CAP Head Start program and the need for TRI-CAP services among many other veterans.

  • A Warrick County client shared how TRI-CAP helped her stabilize the energy usage in her house, making it healthier for her and her children. She explained that she is now able to give back to her community by serving on the TRI-CAP Board of Directors after she started her own business.

  • Fifteen current and former TRI-CAP Board members and senior staff presented the congressman with a detailed overview of TRI-CAP services and the agency’s impact throughout the 8th Congressional District.

  • Community leaders and local officials provided Bucshon with letters of support for TRI-CAP’s services, asking for his consideration in keeping federal appropriations in the national budget to be decided upon later this month.

Afterward, Bucshon expressed his support for all of TRI-CAP’s important programs and that he does not feel that President Trump’s budget will pass as is. He asked that we contact him if any of our funding appropriations appear to be missing from the upcoming congressional budget. 

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CFS Executive Director Meets with Congresswoman Susan Brooks

U.S. Congresswoman Susan Brooks was in Hartford City, Ind., on April 12 to meet with a small group of city officials. Community and Family Services, Inc. (CFS) Executive Director Andy Glentzer (pictured on right with Brooks) was invited to meet her.

During the visit, Glentzer talked to Brooks about the Community Service Block Grant and how it is used to get clients out of poverty. He stressed that the loss of the program or even a reduction in the program’s funds would significantly impact clients, agency efforts and the national network. He highlighted a few programs that CFS offers that help their clients find jobs, including the Joe on the Go coffee shops.

Although Brooks didn’t fully commit to add her name in support of the grant, she did say she was impressed by the program’s impact and would do more research on it.

Brooks plans to visit the Hartford City CFS location during her next visit to hear about the good work happening there.

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CAPE in the News

CAPE Partnership with City of Evansville Highlighted in Mayor's Speech

Mayor Lloyd Winnecke delivered his 6th State of the City address on April 11. During the speech, he touched on project plans for 2017, including the Evansville Water & Sewer Utility Department's partnership with Community Action Program of Evansville (CAPE). This partnership will help low-income residents avoid water disconnections due to increased water bills.

Learn more in the original article published by Zach Evans on courierpress.com.

CAPE Head Start Celebrates End-of-Year Picnic

The CAPE Head Start program celebrated its “End-of-Year” picnic with 725 children and their families at Wesselman’s Park on April 19.

Learn more about the fun day in the original article published by Britney Taylor on 44news.com (also includes a 34-second news segment).

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Harry Hippie’s Visit to Dubois County Brings Joy to TRI-CAP and Others

TRI-CAP leaders received an unexpected call on Monday, April 17 — a call from Timothy B. Watt, also known as “Harry Hippie.” Watt, a Marine Corp veteran, is in the middle of a two-year trek across his home state of Indiana, raising awareness about homelessness and hunger. During his weekend visit to Dubois County, he received donations from community members and distributed them to several local organizations, including $440 to TRI-CAP programs.

Each of these four TRI-CAP programs received $110:

Other local charities selected by Watt were:

TRI-CAP leaders expressed their heartfelt thanks for Watt and all the Dubois County community members who cared enough to help others.

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Area IV’s Park Place Learning Center Prepares Kids for Kindergarten

The Park Place Learning Center is a licensed child care center that aims to prepare children for school, and it’s provided by Area IV Agency on Aging and Community Action Programs. This year-round program is available five days per week to children 18 months to 5 years old.

This August, several of the program’s enrolled children (five of them pictured above) will transition to kindergarten, a process that has Area IV leaders reflecting on the wonderful benefits the program offers.

A Level 4 Program

The Park Place Learning Center is ranked the highest Level 4 on the Indiana Paths to Quality Rating System. Staff members follow The Creative Curriculum guidelines to provide families and children with a variety of experiences and tools to support school readiness and foster positive learning experiences.

Here are just four of the many wonderful ways this program makes a difference for children:

  1. Encourages Eager Learners
    The skill sets kindergarten teachers are looking for might be a little surprising. Because of the national focus on improving education and meeting standards, one might think that it's most important for children to enter kindergarten knowing their ABCs, numbers, shapes and colors so they can keep up with the curriculum. While teachers love it when children arrive with some letter and number recognition, they don't want children to be drilled on academic skills. There are equally—if not more—important readiness skills that set the stage for learning. Raising an eager learner is the goal, and it can be achieved easily through play and day-to-day activities.

  2. Focuses on the Joy of Reading
    The children transitioning to kindergarten approach learning enthusiastically and are eager to explore and discover. Research shows that one of the best predictors of later reading success is a well-developed oral vocabulary, so reading books is an everyday occurrence at Park Place Learning Center. Our children transitioning to kindergarten must be able to concentrate on what the teacher is saying, listen carefully for directions and tune in to the sounds in letters and words.

  3. Teaches Self-Help Skills
    Encouraging self-help skills is an important step to preparing children for kindergarten. The children in the center are expected to be able to follow simple, two-step instructions, such as “take off your coats, and hang them up,” or “take off your boots, and put on your sneakers.” They need to be able to go to the bathroom, wash their hands, blow their nose, cover their mouth when they cough, fasten and unfasten simple buttons and snaps, eat neatly and drink from a cup without spilling.

  4. Improves Social Skills
    The ability to play well with others is another very important skill for children to have before entering kindergarten. The Park Place Learning Center children are refining essential social skills such as sharing, compromising, turn-taking and problem-solving. Children are engaged with their environment and the other children throughout the day.

Learn more the Park Place Learning Center on the Area IV website.

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NCCAA Becomes New Sponsor for Three Charitable Programs

On April 1, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Gary transitioned its sponsorship of three charity programs—the Wheelchair Ramp, Children’s Vision Screenings and Blanketeer programs—to North Central Community Action Agencies, Inc. (NCCAA). The transition comes after a decision by Catholic Charities to narrow its focus on intensive case management and counseling.

“We are extremely proud of what the programs accomplished during the past 12 years,” said Jennifer Dyer, Executive Director for Catholic Charities. “We know they will continue to be very successful under the guidance of North Central Community Action Agencies, Inc.”

The programs meet the needs of communities throughout Northwest Indiana counties.

The Wheelchair Ramp Program provides ramps to elderly and/or disabled residents of Northwest Indiana so they will have the freedom to enter and exit their homes safely. The ramp program comes with approximately 15 volunteers, who just recently completed their 500th ramp. Program Coordinator Tom Szawara is a new part-time employee of NCCAA.

The Children’s Vision Screening Program (pictured on top right) has 10 volunteers. In the 2016-2017 school year, the programs screened more than 3,000 school children. Program Coordinator Barb Mason receives a stipend from the funding sources of this program.

The Blanketeer Program (pictured on bottom right) has six volunteers who come together twice a month to sew, crochet and/or knit items that they distribute to localschools, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and/or agencies that work with infants and children. This program will be housed at the NCCAA Westside Center in Michigan City.

Cynthia Davis, Executive Director of North Central Community Action Agencies, says she sees a great future for these wonderful programs.

“We are very excited for this opportunity to work with the staff and volunteers of these programs and have them join our team,” Davis said. “We are appreciative of the smooth transition between NCCAA and Catholic Charities. The programs have made tremendous impacts in people’s lives, and this speaks volumes to the work and commitment of the staff and volunteers. We intend to keep recruiting additional volunteers to add to the programs and fulfill the anticipated needs of the low-income people of the communities that we serve.”

The ramp and screening programs will continue to receive funding from:
The Michigan City Community Enrichment Corporation
United Way of LaPorte County
Duneland Health Council
Heart of Cook Foundation
REMC Foundation

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