December 2022 Volume 33; Issue 3

You can view the complete newsletter here.


From the Executive Director's Desk

December is a busy time of year with holiday activity, LIHEAP applications and financial activity. Applications for energy assistance are up as compared to last year. A sign that perhaps the economy is slowing, and inflation may be headed in the same direction.

With the year ending, Iowa’s elected officials are preparing for the 2023 legislative session. This year's activity will center around education, maternal health services, childcare, additional tax reductions as well as the streamlining of some state services. Change is usually a good thing. I do hope that some time is spent evaluating the merger of the Department of Human Services and the Iowa Department of Public Health. The need to have strong communication systems with contractors and the public will be very important with such a large agency.

The coming year will see an expansion of our Weatherization efforts under the federal infrastructure bill. The Department of Energy was awarded Weatherization funds to be used over the next five years. Plans are underway to implement these additional services.

It is likely that WIC services will see opportunities to streamline some processes if the proposed federal legislation moves through congress. These changes have bipartisan support. Details will be announced and implemented over the next year or two.

Our WIC and FaDSS expansions continue to go well. Staff is busy implementing the necessary changes and adjusting when needed. Thanks to everyone for their support and hard work.

January will be busy with tax reports and year-end filings. The coming year holds promise for the agency as each year has in the past. Thanks to everyone for your support and partnership throughout 2022.

Dick Sievers
Executive Director


Head Start/Early Head Start

Discover what Early Head Start and Head Start has to offer!

Early Head Start and Head Start are federally funded early childhood programs that focus on school readiness for children under the age of five. Learning through play in a safe and supportive environment, our center-based programs help children grow in language, literacy, and social and emotional development. In the home-based program, Early Head Start promotes healthy prenatal outcomes for pregnant women, enhance the development of very young children, and helps families build strong relationships and well-being.

Federally funded Early Head Start is offered through home-based services in Cherokee, Plymouth and Sioux counties, and State funded Early Head Start is located in Ida and Lyon. There are three Toddler center-based programs located in Plymouth and Sioux counties. Head Start has center-based classrooms located in Akron, Cherokee, Le Mars, Orange City, Rock Rapids, Rock Valley and Sioux Center. There is also a combined Head Start and SHIP program located in Ida Grove, as well as a Shared Visions program located in Hawarden.

Applications for the Early Head Start and Head Start program will begin February 1st for the upcoming 2023-2024 school year. If you know of a family who would benefit from these programs, please call 1-800-859-2025 or go to the Mid-Sioux Opportunity website for more information. Give a child a “Head Start” in their future!



Are you a family needing a little extra support? The Family Development & Self-Sufficiency Program (FaDSS) has expanded its eligibility guidelines and you may now be eligible!

The program is free and voluntary. Mid-Sioux Opportunity provides FaDSS services in Sac, Calhoun, Ida, Cherokee, Plymouth, Sioux, and Lyon counties.

The Core Program Components include the following:

  • Structured Home Visits conducted by skilled Family Development Specialists
  • Assessments that support healthy self-exploration
  • Science-informed Goal Pursuit designed to build core skills
  • A framework and process for Career Development
  • Connecting families to Stabilizing Supports and Opportunities in the Community

Call 712-786-3483 for more information on the program and to see if you may be eligible.


Energy Services

Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Many thanks to our outreach staff for all their hard work this past fall and winter. To date, 1,500 applications have been taken. Our goal is to reach 2000 applications this year. We are at 75% of our goal with four months to go.

Clinics were held in Holstein, Battle Creek, Aurelia, Marcus, Quimby, Washta, Kingsley, Remsen, Akron, Hawarden, Orange City, Rock Valley, Larchwood, and George in October to assist the elderly and disabled clients. We offer this service so they don’t need to drive to the outreach offices and the staff can assist them with filling out the paperwork.

We have many clients applying by phone, and a few have accessed our online application.

Funding is considerably lower than in the past Covid years but still enough to be effective. On September 30th, the President signed a Continuing Resolution to maintain funding at the previous year’s levels for the regular block grant through December 16th. Most positively, the CR will be extended until the end of the year.

FY23 Emergency Supplemental funding was also passed with the CR. That figure would be $1 billion nationally.

FY23 LiHEAP Supplemental funding was awarded through the infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act for $1,021,032 nationally. Most of this money will be used for regular assistance funding.


Old Man Winter has made his appearance with the temperature dropping below 30 degrees, which means our weatherization work is needed more than ever.

Weatherization funding for next year is also part of the CR and is still held up in the House and Senate. Hopefully, we will know something in January.

On a good note, the President signed into law on November 15, 2021, the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act. This is 3.5 billion nationally, $44,904,534 is Iowa's share, and $1,266,528 will be Mid-Sioux's share. We should see this money by the first part of 2023 and this money will be spent in a five-year period. We are so grateful to be able to weatherize many more homes in our area.

Embrace Iowa

The Des Moines Register is again doing a state-wide fundraiser to assist low-income households with emergency needs that we generally are not funded for. Benefits include mattresses, car repairs, medical expenses and many other emergency needs. Guidelines are set at 200% of the federal income poverty guidelines. This is an incredible way to help the elderly, disabled, and other families facing many difficult challenges.


Women, Infants, and Children

The year 2022 has been a year full of difficult decisions that have brought about many challenges as well as opportunities for growth with our WIC, Maternal Health, Child Health and Oral Health programs. Our WIC/MCAH service delivery area was changed from a five-county service area to a ten-county service area (eliminating Ida County and adding Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, O’Brien, Osceola and Palo Alto). This change in the service delivery area also required separate competitive grant applications for the WIC, Maternal Health and Child & Adolescent Health programs. The applications were very extensive and the services for all programs had an effective date of October 1, 2022. After many long and difficult discussions, it was determined that it was in the best interest of our agency and staff, to not submit the Child & Adolescent (including Hawki, I-Smile and I-Smile@School) application. In all honesty, we did not feel we would be able to meet the extensive grant requirements particularly related to staffing requirements, collaborative committees, and changes in direct care services which would have a negative impact on Medicaid revenue.

Unfortunately, one of the most difficult outcomes of this decision was in regard to no longer providing oral health services and therefore, no longer having a staff position for our current I-Smile Coordinator, Dawn Ericson. Dawn has worked for Mid-Sioux for the past 17 years and was instrumental in implementing Mid-Sioux’s I-Smile and I-Smile@School programs. Dawn has built numerous collaborative relationships with local school nurses, physician offices, public health nurses, Community Health Centers and dentists. She has provided outstanding Dental Care Coordination services which has resulted in many, many young children receiving extensive dental treatment. We are extremely grateful for Dawn’s years of service to Mid-Sioux Opportunity, Inc. and appreciate her perseverance and commitment to helping uninsured families receive the necessary dental treatment for their children. She will be greatly missed.

As we look back on 2022 and prepare for 2023, first and foremost, thank you to our Mid-Sioux Remsen staff - Dawn Ericson, Cindy Kamies, Angie Langel, Lindy Schreier, Jessica Trei, and Kim Woodall-Seliger. These staff have all been instrumental in maintaining current services and also with helping to expand the services into six new counties. In addition, thank you also to the new Spencer office WIC staff – Tami Meendering, Charity Mucino and Maddie Wankum. All three of these employees were previous WIC employees through Upper Des Moines Opportunity, Inc. and were extremely helpful with expanding Mid-Sioux WIC services in the new service delivery area. Mid-Sioux’s WIC program now has offices in both Remsen and Spencer. The service delivery area now includes 13 different WIC clinic sites. While having staff in two different locations can be a challenge, it has also provided an opportunity for staff from the two offices to help cover clinics in the various locations. This has been especially helpful with staff vacancies and with meeting grant requirements with nutrition assessments. Thank you also to our administration and fiscal staff who have helped tremendously with budget projections and helping submit the grant applications. Everyone helps to meet the various deadlines and required reports is greatly appreciated.

Moving forward in 2023, we will continue to work on meeting the WIC and Maternal Health grant requirements. This will include implementing a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor program and determining the appropriate service delivery model for our Maternal Health program in the new six counties. We will continue to work through the challenges and look forward to the opportunities!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

Written by


Mid-Sioux Opportunity, Inc. is a not-for-profit Community Action Agency established in 1965 to fight poverty at a local level by assisting low-income families in Northwest Iowa to become self-sufficient.

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