Community Action equips low-income citizens with the tools and potential for becoming self-sufficient. The structure of program is unique – federal dollars are used locally to offer specialized programming in communities. It is a coordinated effort to address the root effects of poverty and to, ultimately, move families and individuals to self-sufficiency.
This work is not easy and demand is always shifting and changing. Over the years, the federal government has changed as well. The funding is now part of the Block Grant System, which allows for the flexibility and specialization of unique programs. Poverty is viewed as a systemic problem and Community Action is a systems approach to resolving those issues. There are now over 1,000 Community Action Agencies throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
Community Action Agencies (CAAs) promote self-sufficiency, not dependency. Among their three key assets are:
- FLEXIBILITY - The Community Services Block Grant, which supplies the core CAA funding, is unique; it is flexible, and it primarily funds local investments in services, facilities and partnerships which are particular to the CAA's home community. By adding to and altering government programs' "one-size-fits-all" programming, a community can provide its low-income members the right mix of assistance, encouragement, and incentives to become self-sufficient.
- IMMEDIACY - CAAs are located in the areas of greatest need, managed and staffed by community residents. Therefore, when a family or an individual faces a crisis, their CAA is able to respond quickly with targeted forms of assistance appropriate to the situation; these may well include the mobilization of help from many of the CAA's private sector partners, volunteers, and faith-based groups.The goal is to promptly stabilize a family, and thus avoid the long-term consequence of costly dependency. However, Community Action also has the capability to sustain long-term involvement in a family's progress to self-sufficiency, as well as in the development of the low-income community.
- COORDINATION - A bedrock principle of Community Action is that resources of all kinds need to be integrated so they can be used in combination to solve community and individual problems. CAAs manage billions of dollars in public and private resources annually, serving millions of low-income persons; the CSBG-funded staff goes into the community and to other government sources to bring in not only leveraged funds but also hundreds of thousands of local volunteers.
So, in other words, the Community Action Method:
- Prioritizes prevention
- Addresses the causes of poverty
- Involves the community
- Improves the community
- Creates opportunity
CAA response to clients/customers is:
- Directed to Long Term Client Development
As a designated Community Action Agency, Palmetto CAP is required to collect, analyze and report on the outcomes of our programs and services. CAAs use Results Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA), a performance-based initiative designed to preserve the anti-poverty focus of community action and to promote greater effectiveness among CAAs.
Palmetto CAP’s work is guided by the six national, broad anti-poverty goals :
Goal 1: Low-income people become more self-sufficient.
Goal 2: The conditions in which low-income people live are improved.
Goal 3: Low-income people own a stake in their community.
Goal 4: Partnerships among supporters and providers of service to low- income people are achieved.
Goal 5: Agencies increase their capacity to achieve results.
Goal 6: Low-income people, especially vulnerable populations, achieve their potential by strengthening family and other supportive systems.
Palmetto CAP is a member of the National Community Action Partnership, and the South Carolina Association of Community Action Partnerships. You can learn more about the Community Action network through NASCSP, the National Association of State Community Services Programs.
Typically, the programs and services coordinated, enhanced and offered to the community by its CAA include all or some of the following objectives:
- TO HELP AND ENCOURAGE CHILDREN AND YOUTH: Head Start, Literacy Programs, Dropout Prevention, After School Enrichment and Tutoring, Teen Centers, Recreation and Sports Programs, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC), Well-Baby Clinics, Summer Enrichment Programs, Summer Food Programs, Child Care Food Programs, Pregnancy Prevention, Character Education, Substance Abuse Education, Prevention & Counseling, Summer Youth Employment Programs, College Counseling and Placement.
- TO SUPPORT THE WORKING POOR: Child Care, Adult Education, GED Preparation, Job Training and On-The-Job Support, Job Search Assistance, Job Placement, Job Creation, Small Business Development, Loan Funds, Senior Community Service Employment, Displaced Homemaker Programs, Budget Counseling, Internet Training and Access.
- TO SUPPORT THE POOR FACING CRISIS: Homeless Shelters & Drop-In Centers, Utility Deposits, Eviction Prevention, Domestic Violence Programs & Shelters, Transitional Housing, Food Pantries Energy Crisis Assistance & Shelter, Emergency Food Baskets, Emergency Clothing, Supplies, and Services - including Medical & Legal Volunteer Help.
- TO SUSTAIN AND HONOR THE ELDERLY: Meals on Wheels, In-Home Care Programs, Senior Centers, Senior Day Care, Foster Grandparents, Congregate Meals, Medical Transportation, Volunteer Chore Services.
- TO STRENGTHEN THE WHOLE FAMILY: Comprehensive Family Development Support, Nutrition Education, Parenting Education, Community Gardens and Canneries, Food Stamps, Health Clinics, Weatherization Assistance, Energy Assistance, Rental Assistance, Home Ownership Programs, Community Centers, Individual Development Accounts.
- TO STRENGTHEN THE WHOLE COMMUNITY: Low-Income Housing Development, Economic Development and Support for New Business Ventures, Mobilization of Community-Wide Safety and Crime Prevention Initiatives, Consumer Education and Fraud Prevention, Community Reinvestment Act Partnerships, Support for Groups Working on Neighborhood Improvements, Support for Dialogue and Planning among all Sectors of the Community.