Tuesday, March 24, 2015

State of Poverty in Ohio Report 2014

In cooperation with Community Research Partners (CRP), OACAA released the State of Poverty in Ohio Report on Tuesday, March 10, 2015. The report, which is now available online, aims to illustrate the effects of poverty in an effort to understand economic hardships today and over the last fifty years.

Throughout the report, you will learn about many of the barriers that have kept nearly 32 percent of people in the United States teetering on the edge of, or prevented them from escaping, poverty. You will also learn how the Federal Poverty Measure (FPM), which was developed over fifty years ago, is an insufficient way to measure Americans’ ability to provide basic necessities such as housing and utilities—because the FPM was developed to measure only the minimum food budget. And you will learn more about the challenges people in poverty face when working to overcome the benefits gap while learning to financially manage soaring education debt in order to live a self-sufficient life without public or private assistance.

Utilizing graphics, case studies and data, the report dispels commonly held myths and misconceptions about poverty. The report also illustrates how Community Action agencies utilize a holistic approach to meet the needs of low-income families and individuals while on their unique paths to self-sufficiency. Poverty is a complex issue and cannot be alleviated with simple solutions. We hope this study of poverty and its effect on millions of Ohioans will shine a light on the issues in order to develop long-term solutions.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Organizational Standards: IM 138 Released

As many of you have seen, IM 138 was released by the U.S. Office of Community Services (OCS) which provides guidance and responsibilities for the establishment of Organizational Standards for the CSBG Network. These Standards reflect more than two years of work led by the Community Action Partnership. The goal of the Standards is to establish a set of good management practices that every Community Action Agency should meet to demonstrate adequate organizational capacity while delivering services to low-income persons. The 58 Standards are divided into three thematic areas: 1) Maximum Feasible Participation, 2) Vision and Direction, and 3) Operations and Accountability. Together, these areas represent minimum threshold requirements that will ensure the CSBG Network can continue to improve the lives of those we serve.

Some key items to note include:
  • State CSBG lead agencies (Office of Community Assistance/OCA) are responsible for establishing and communicating expectations for organizational standards to eligible entities across a State, assessing the status of Standards among all of the eligible entities annually, and reporting to OCS on the Standards in the CSBG Annual Report
  • In cases where the eligible entity may be able to meet the Standard in a reasonable time frame contingent on some targeted technical assistance, the State and entity may develop a technical assistance plan to target  training and technical assistance resources and outline a time frame for the entity to meet the Standard(s)
  • OCS and States do not have the authority under the CSBG Act to bypass the process described in CSBG IM 116 in order to re-compete CSBG funding based on failure to meet Organizational Standards
  • States must integrate the Standards into their State Plan beginning in FY 2016, which is due to OCS on September 2, 2015
While the IM 138 includes a large number of Standards, many agencies throughout Ohio’s CAA network are already implementing many of them. For others, your state T&TA provider, OCATO, can help. Below are some free resources to get you started on Standards with which you are less familiar. For further assistance, contact Josh Summer.

IM 138 Resources:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

2015 Winter Legislative Conference #WLC2015

Last week, the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies (OACAA) hosted the 2015 Winter Legislative Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Nearly 300 Community Action professionals, partners and legislators joined the OACAA board and staff to discuss, learn and inspire each other. New and innovative approaches were pursued as the Community Action Network continued to do what they do best—help people and change lives.

The conference kicked off with visits with state legislators and agencies discussed their progress, ideas, and successes while advocating for their community’s low-income population. That evening, we were joined by several cabinet members, representatives, senators and legislative aides at the Legislative Reception and discussions continued regarding our network’s programs and initiatives to alleviate poverty across Ohio.

Thursday morning began with breakfast and speaker Denise Harlow, chief executive officer of Community Action Partnership, who discussed the newly released Community Action Standards. The Standards were coordinated by the Partnership over a three-year period along with 50 individuals connected to CSBG funding. Following breakfast, five breakout tracks commenced which included Leadership, Fiscal/Human Resources, Family Development, Public Relations, and Weatherization.

During lunch, OACAA was honored to host Governor John Kasich as the keynote speaker during which he released a preview of the next state budget proposal. Included in the preview was the initiative to expand child care assistance to families and individuals at up to 300 percent of the poverty level as opposed to the current 200 percent limit. In addition, Kasich aims to coordinate state services to eliminate barriers to low-income people to increase their successful transition to self-sufficiency.  Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services Director Cynthia Dungey and Office of Human Services Innovations Director Douglas Lumpkin followed the Governor’s speech with additional details.

The conference wrapped up on Friday with a discussion among members and OACAA executive director Philip E. Cole, as well as a federal policy update from speaker David Bradley. Mr. Bradley, co-founder and executive director of National Community Action Foundation, discussed NCAF’s work toward the federal reauthorization of CSBG, which he expects to accomplish in 2015.

Photos from the conference can be viewed on our new Flickr photo feed: OACAA Flickr. OACAA would like to thank all of those throughout Ohio’s 88 counties who participated in this year’s conference. All attendees, speakers, workshop presenters, staff and members of board of trustees played a vital role in the success of the conference. We are excited to begin working on the 2015 OACAA Summer Conference and look forward to seeing you there! Stay up to date with more details for the next conference and other activities by subscribing to our blog.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Community Action Helps People and Changes Lives

Over the past 50 years, Community Action Agencies across the country have worked tirelessly to leverage resources, develop local programs, and administer grants to help low-income families and individuals achieve self-sufficiency to fight the war on poverty. Over the past year, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Economic Opportunity Action of 1964, we have celebrated the 50 best things about Community Action. Though our anniversary celebration is winding down, our successes and stories of hope, achievement and movement toward our mission, will continue.

The Community Action Promise states: “Community Action changes people’s lives, embodies the spirit of hope, improves communities, and makes America a better place to live. We care about the entire community, and we are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other.”

For the over 6,000 staff serving all of Ohio’s 88 counties through 48 locally controlled Community Action Agencies, this is truly the case. From emergency services and job training and placement programs to weatherization and housing development, people all across the state are moving toward that mission and helping low-income Ohioans help themselves by narrowing gaps and creating bridges and opportunities to move out of poverty.

The Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies is proud of the work in our network and across America. There is still work to do and we look forward to celebrating the new and innovative programs that are created by Ohio’s agencies to help people and change lives. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Community Action Keeps Kids Warm

For the second consecutive year, Jackson-Vinton County Community Action, Inc. (JVCAI) has provided hundreds of brand new coats to low-income children to keep them warm. The program, which was made possible by the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in partnership with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies (OACAA), has already provided 290 coats to area children with more still available.