Federal funds stimulate service action agency

Monday, August 16, 2010

Since stimulus funding began trickling into Missouri, Missouri Valley Community Action Agency received $5,492,866.12 in ARRA funding to fight poverty and create jobs.

MVCAA's serves Carroll, Chariton, Johnson, Lafayette, Pettis, Ray and Saline Counties.

Representatives from MVCAA in Saline County say it's difficult to pinpoint how much of that funding has stayed within county lines. The agency holds offices in seven counties, including Saline, and most of the money received is allocated toward services rather than county.

The Head Start and Early Head Start Programs received $262,641, which allowed for three new staff members -- a new preschool teacher, a bilingual family development specialist and a bilingual teacher assistant -- and provided tuition support for teachers working on college degrees. In addition, the funding allocated for this program helped purchase car seats and established an in-house Child Development Associate credential class for teacher assistants and Early Head Start childcare partner staff.

More than $3 million of ARRA funding was received by MVCAA's Home Weatherization program. Since Oct. 2009, 103 homes have been weatherized and the department reports that it's hired 13 full time employees and one part time employee. Weatherization also purchased six new trucks, three trailers, which were outfitted with ladders and tools, insulation blowers, blower doors and furnace and air testing auditor equipment. An MVCAA press release reads that all items were purchased locally and the department purchased two thermal cameras and moved to a location with more space and parking.

In collaboration with the Workforce Development Board, which serves six of MVCAA's seven counties, the agency offered a Summer Youth Program. More than $530,000 provided 288 eligible youth the opportunity to work at area businesses. This came at no cost to the employer and offered youth up to 320 hours of employment. In 2009, four temporary positions were also created.

MVCAA was able to recognize one area in which funding directly benefited Saline County. The Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing program received $60,719, which was broken down as follows: $28,510 goes toward the prevention of homelessness, $28,509 for rapid rehousing and an additional $3,700 is used for stabilization.

"These funds are part of a three-year contract and MVCAA is on track to use it within two years," said Pam LaFrenz, executive director. She continued to say that the State Department of Social Services ideally likes to see the funds used within the first two years of the contract.

Other projects the agency is working on include Community Gardens, Missouri Renewable Energy Industry Project, Volunteer Development Coordination, Family Development Skills Institute and the Show Me Social Justice International Film Festival, which will be held Sept. 10-12 in Warrensburg.

Contact Sarah Reed at sreed@marshallnews.com

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