Mid - Michigan Community Action Agency serves the Central Michigan area. Visit http://www.mmcaa.org/what_we_do/ to learn more about our programs.
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The Community Services Network is made up of approximately 1,222 local, private, non-profit and public agencies that work to alleviate poverty and empower low-income families in communities throughout the United States. Most of these agencies are Community Action Agencies (CAAs) created through the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. CAAs provide services to more than 9.3 million low-income people annually in 96 percent of the nation's counties. Thus, over a quarter of the poverty line are served by CAAs each year. Among them are 2.8 million children.
Every Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) dollar leverages almost $4 of state, local and private contributions. A total of nearly $5.6 billion is administered by the CAA network to provide support, services and improvements in low-income communities.
There is no "typical" CAA. No two CAAs are exactly alike because each is governed by the leadership and specific needs of its local community. But despite this fact, there is a typical CAA approach to fighting the causes of poverty. Local agencies approach these goals by offering a variety of programs that serve low-income children, families and seniors. They coordinate emergency assistance, provide weatherization services, sponsor youth programs, operate senior centers and provide transportation in rural areas. CAAs provide linkages to job training opportunities, GED preparation courses and vocational education programs. They provide counseling to entrepreneurial development and small business incubators; from domestic violence crisis assistance to family development programs and parenting classes; from food pantries and emergency shelters to low-income housing development and community revitalization projects.
The common goal, enabling people eventually to become independent of any public or charitable assistance, engenders common CAA operating methods. The requirements of the CSBG, the expertise of state and local managers shared over a generation of training and peer exchange, and above all the observation of the outcomes of various interventions have led to similar program designs across the nation. In general, CAAs prioritize prevention initiatives and provide extended involvement with clients as an introduction to opportunities for moving the clients away from dependency on stop-gap aid. The eight goals outlined in the CSBG statute address different causes of poverty, and since each family is likely to be affected by more than one of these, the purposes of the CSBG in part, is to determine the type of coordinating role that CAAs play. The statutory goals are:
o Securing and Maintaining Employment
o Securing Adequate Education
o Better Income Management
o Securing Adequate Housing
o Providing Emergency Services
o Improving Nutrition
o Creating Linkages Among Anti-Poverty Programs
o Achieving Self-Sufficiency
Source: National Association for State Community Services Programs, Community Services Block Grant Statistical Report: FY 1998 (View the report on NASCAP's website.)