September 2021 Volume 31; Issue 11
You can view the complete newsletter here.
From the Executive Director's Desk
September is the last month of our agency fiscal year. This is a busy time for our fiscal staff. Audit preparations are underway and contract closeout is happening with several of our larger services.
COVID-19 is still with us and the new variant seems to be picking up momentum. Iowa’s vaccination rate is about 48% of the eligible population. We have a long way to go. Until the spread is contained, the virus will continue to manage our lives, personal and at work. The vaccine booster is likely to be presented in September/October in a similar way as the first rollout was done. Medical staff first, teachers second, etc. Our local public health agencies are the entities in charge of this process. Please contact them or your personal physician if you have any questions about receiving the vaccine.
Child care continues to be a hot topic with almost everyone these days. We have lost providers for various reasons which adds stress to an already limited resource. The coming months will provide numerous opportunities to discuss options to expand and improve our childcare system nationwide.
I would like to take this opportunity to recognize Katherine Harrington. Katherine is Executive Director of the Iowa Community Action Association. She started with the association only a few months ago but has been busy providing support to Iowa’s 16 community action agencies. During these past months, Katherine has helped to secure contracts related to COVID-19 and has worked to streamline office operations by transferring to a remote office system for all the ICAA staff. The Iowa Community Action Association provides advocacy services as well as training and technical assistance to the 16-member agencies. Thanks for your work Katherine and welcome to community action.
Mid-Sioux has received a Low- Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) to be used for water and sewer arrearages bills. The Consolidate Appropriation Act funded $638 million nationwide with Iowa receiving $5.6 million. In addition, the American Rescue Plan Act awarded $500 million nationwide and Iowa’s portion was $4.4 million. This program has no ending date. Our outreach will be taking the applications for this program.
FAMILY DEVELOPMENT & SELF-SUFFICIENCY
The Family Development and Self-Sufficiency (FaDSS) program recently wrapped up fiscal year 2021 on June 30th. Participation in FaDSS is voluntary for families participating in the Family Investment Program (FIP). Eligible families are most commonly identified and referred to us by Iowa Workforce Development’s PROMISE JOBS program. Occasional referrals may also come from the Department of Human Services, other departments within Mid-Sioux such as Head Start, Early Head Start, Outreach, or WIC, other social service programs, or the client themselves. FaDSS utilizes a strength-based approach and provides services that promote, empower, and nurture families towards economic self-sufficiency and family stability. Throughout this fiscal year, services were still altered due to COVID and there were few in-person meetings with the families we were serving. For a home visitation program, that provides some challenges in how we do our work! Due to the public health emergency declaration, we have also been allowed to keep families on past the normal 7-month transition. Our Mid-Sioux FaDSS program only exited 9 families in fiscal year 2021. Between program requirements being waived for participants and exiting a fewer number of families, we saw some of our program outcomes drop a little from previous years, but feel the work we have done is just as important. Below are a few of the outcomes reported in our 2021 FaDSS Annual Report.
36 families received services through FaDSS.
67% of families were involved in work preparedness activities.
25% of families exited the program with an increased income.
At entry, 11% of families were employed. By exit, 33% of families had achieved employment.
67% of FaDSS families had at least one adult member experience an identified mental health concern. 83% of those families accessed available mental health treatment. FaDSS directly assisted 100% of the families that accessed mental health treatment.
Beginning in fiscal year 2020, FaDSS began working with FIP families that are not mandated to participate in the PROMISE JOBS program. In the past, FaDSS was only able to work with families in which the adult was receiving FIP and required to work with PROMISE JOBS. We can now work with families that may only receive FIP for a child in their home. These may be households where the adult is receiving SSI (Supplemental Security Income) for themselves and only FIP for the child. It may also be a household that receives caretaker FIP. In order to receive caretaker FIP, you must be caring for a relative’s child and that child resides in your home. These have been different families for FaDSS to serve, but we have seen these types of families greatly benefit from our services.
FaDSS was able to put together some household cleaning baskets containing many items that families sometimes struggle to purchase and they cannot use their food assistance benefits to buy. Staff was able to deliver these to families’ doorsteps and they were very thankful to receive the items.
CHILD CARE RESOURCE & REFERRAL
Iowa Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) went to the Iowa State Fair! IowaWORKS was so kind to invite CCR&R to the fair to share a booth on August 18, 2021 from 9:00a.m. to 12:00p.m. Child care is the engine that drives our economy and workforce and partnership is ready to show it! See below for pictures from the IowaWORKS booth with local CCR&R staff Rebekah Hungate, Business Development Specialist, and Danielle Hale, Business Development Specialist at the state fair!
CCR&R is also excited to announce a new partnership with StepAhead® to implement SMS text messaging to communicate with Iowa child care providers. The new text messaging system is another tool that will help us to keep early childhood education professionals updated as quickly and efficiently as possible. Whether we are sharing emergency-related updates, new child care guidance or professional development opportunities, providers will be able to quickly review and take needed action from our texts. Text: iowaccrr to 59925 to sign up today!
SIOUX COUNTY OUTREACH
School is back in session for the 2021-2022 year! Our Sioux County Back to School program was a success again this year. We were able to assist 41 families and 88 children with school supplies and backpacks. A very special Thank You to the following organizations who generously sponsored our program: Farmers Coop Society, Premier Bank, Van Engelenhoven Agency, Pats Jewelry Centre, Northwest Bank, First Reformed Church (Boyden), Hawarden American Lutheran, Iowa State Bank, First Reformed Church (Rock Valley), Sioux County Farm Bureau, American Reformed Church (Orange City), The Krahling Family, Lebanon Christian Reformed Church, and Central Reformed Church (Sioux Center).
On August 28th, 2021 there was severe weather in Lyon County and Gov. Reynolds has declared it a disaster area so we are currently taking disaster applications for families affected by the storms. The applications are able to be filled out on www.dhs.iowa.gov and can be turned in to our Sioux County Outreach office. Applicants can contact the office at 712-722-3611 or for any questions about the application process. The deadline for submitting an application for this program is October 14th.
The Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program (LiHEAP) is getting ready to start on October 1st, 2021 for people 60 years of age or older, disabled, on a fixed income, or have a disconnect notice. We are sending out letters to automatically eligible clients and the early applicants in September so they have time to get them sent back to us. Beginning November 1st, applications can be taken for everyone else. We will also be holding clinics again this year in the following towns: Hawarden, Orange City, Rock Valley, Larchwood & George.