by ANNA GROOVER
Community Action Agencies (CAAs) are sometimes considered the best-kept secrets of the nonprofit sector, says Jessie Yeary, director of communications and development at the South Central Community Action Program (SCCAP). She hopes to change that. “I don’t really like that phrase because we don’t want to be a secret,” she says.
SCCAP, which celebrates its 55th anniversary this year, advances the personal and economic independence of residents of Monroe, Morgan, Owen, and Brown counties. When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the legislation created CAAs. Part of a national network, CAAs like SCCAP receive federal and state funding—$9,740,499 for SCCAP in 2018—as well as private donations. With those funds, SCCAP facilitates a variety of economic assistance programs for 4,000 low-income households annually.
Some programs are income-based, like the Energy Assistance Program, allowing low-income households to receive a one-time benefit that helps pay winter heating bills. Average assistance last year was $610.
Head Start/Early Head Start, another income-qualified program, is a free school-readiness program for children from birth to age 5. Classrooms are located throughout Monroe County. “It’s really great, quality education,” Yeary says. “It’s not just a day care.”
One program that serves the entire community regardless of income is Covering Kids & Families. If you’re in need of advice on anything pertaining to health insurance, SCCAP navigators offer guidance.
Another program, Thriving Connections, works to connect members of different economic groups through weekly dinners. Group members take part in financial literacy and personal development workshops and often become close friends, Yeary says.
SCAAP’s main goal is to help families in the gray area that exists for people who make too much money to receive government assistance but not enough to lead healthy, flourishing lives. “If they don’t have to worry about paying their heating bill, maybe they can put a little bit more in savings,” Yeary says.
The SCCAP office is located at 1500 W. 15th St. To join Thriving Connections, volunteer with Head Start, or learn more, call 812-339-3447 or visit at insccap.org.