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Community Development Office – A Base to Launch New Businesses and Expanded Employment Opportunities
 
 
Community Development Coordinator Luan Jacobson
 
 
 
 

OUTREACH ARE GOCAA’s GATEKEEPERS: FIRST STOP ON THE
PATH TO SELF SUFFICIENCY
 
 
 
Linkage Programs Help Bridge the Gaps
Outreach staff help households fill out applications for the agency’s more comprehensive programs like Housing and Weatherization but some of the agency’s emergency or motivational programs are serviced directly by Outreach staff which make accessibility more timely. The agency’s tax credit assistance program, emergency energy programs that help with subsidies like deliverable fuel payments or other energy related payments to gas and electric vendors, Social Security Programs like MMAP and MIPPI, Commodity Supplemental Food and the Emergency Food Assistance Program are all there to help with costs associated with necessities that low income people often have to make a choice about. By assuring that low income households get their tax credits to help pay for things like property taxes, or the low-income subsidy for the Medicare Part D Program and the Medicare Savings Programs, the money or savings generated from these programs helps free up their funds for other expenses. Likewise the agency’s monthly and quarterly commodity programs also help well over a thousand households stretch their food budgets when they pick up their commodities, an individual package value which ranges between $30-$40 per household.
 
LOW-INCOME FAMILIES BENEFIT FROM FEDERAL AND STATE TAX CREDITS
Each year GOCAA employs one position to help low-income households do their federal and state taxes along with federal and state tax credits. These credits can either reduce taxable income and lower taxes or provide a refund even if no tax is owed. These credits provide significant financial resources to low-income families. Among the federal tax credits are the Earned Income Credit, Dependent Child Care Credit and the Child Tax Credit among others including the home heating and property tax credit. The Earned Income credit supplements the earned income of lower income individuals and families. The federal credit can be a maximum of $3,050 for a single worker raising 1 child up to $5,666 for a married worker raising 3 or more children. Individual workers without children can qualify for a smaller amount. The credit phases out as income increases.
 
GOCAA provides this service to low-income households free of charge. All taxes are e-filed and the turn-around time to receive your tax returns or tax credit checks is 8-15 days.
 
 
 
 
HEAD START ENHANCES LIVES THROUGH EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS
 
Children are our future. The care and investment a community makes in the early childhood developmental years helps to build each child’s individual foundation.
 
Mission Statement:
Enhance lives through Education and Community Partnerships
Program Philosophy:
Nurture the child within the family and the family within the community
Value Statement:
Growing with Helping Hands
 
Federal on-site review
All Head Start programs undergo a federal on-site review every three years. The team conducts interviews with staff, parents, governing body, and policy council members. The focus is on the delivery of services as well as management systems, accountability and fiscal integrity.
A federal monitoring team last reviewed the GOCAA Head Start program on March 14, 2010 through March 19, 2010. It was determined that our program was in compliance with all applicable federal Head Start Performance Standards, laws, regulations and policy requirements.
The on-site reviewers stated our “collaborations in an economically depressed rural community were a strength. The program operations were conducted through a relationship-based culture with two local school districts, health care providers, and community organizations.”
CHILD Health and Safety
100% Children were up-to-date per Michigan’s Early & Periodic Screening & Developmental Testing schedule for well child care
99% Children were up-to-date on all immunizations appropriate for their age
99% Enrollees completed a professional dental exam during enrollment year
30% Enrolled children were eligible to receive special education and related services
 
All of our Head Start centers are licensed by Michigan Bureau of Children and Adult Licensing.
 
 
 
Child Development and
Education: outcomes
Performance and Growth
Overall, children are progressing well toward meeting development and learning objectives. Information on children’s progress is obtained from multiple sources, including teacher observations, analysis of children’s work samples and performance, parent reports or direct assessment of children. Program improvements are initiated by adjusting classroom instruction utilizing data and through individualized staff development opportunities.
 
Screening and Assessment
Devereaux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA) is completed on every Head Start child. This enables us to accurately identify social and emotional issues and provide the necessary services and referrals as needed. Within 45 days of enrollment, all children participate in a developmental screening; the standardized screening tool, Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning, fourth edition (DIAL-4) is used.
 
Curriculum
The Creative Curriculum is used as our foundation to ensure school readiness. Our program is designed to meet the individual needs for developing self-confidence, feelings of self worth, curiosity and self-discipline, and thus will enhance the child’s intellectual and physical development.
 
Transition
Our program supports successful transitions for families. Home visitors and teachers offer a variety of activities and implement a collaborative relationship with each other, elementary schools, childcare programs, and others to ensure smooth transitions.
 
head start family and community
engagement
Enrollment – Average Monthly Enrollment - 132
GOCAA Head Start Program served a total of:
150 Children
6 Pregnant Mothers
138 Families
60 were Single Parent Families
 
Father Involvement
31 Fathers/Father Figures participated in Head Start activities with their child
GOCAA Head Start organized activities to encourage father involvement.
 
Services Provided
61% Enrolled Families requested follow up services in the areas of Housing (41%) Job Training (18%);
Emergency/Crisis Intervention (18%), Mental Health Services(18%)
 
Volunteers
159 Total Volunteers during Program Year
125 were Current/Former Head Start Parents
 
 
Family Events
GOCAA Head Start collaborated with community agencies such as local libraries, public schools, Michigan State University Extension, health departments, etc. to provide various events for local families. Some examples include: “Picturing America,” Early Childhood Expo Fall Frolic, and Community Family Fun Nights.
 
 
 
HOUSING REHABILITATION AND HOMEBUYERS PROGRAMS ARE LONG TERM INVESTMENTS FOR BOTH COMMUNITY AND HOUSEHOLDS
Nothing helps stabilize a community more that home ownership just as it also helps to stabilize families. The investment in home ownership gives families a sense of belonging and responsibility as a vested citizen of a community. Oftentimes former transient attitudes are traded for a reason to read the paper, attend meetings, help your neighbor and/or become involved in what’s going on around you. This is not to say that people who rent don’t do these things, but it is to say that home ownership gives it an entirely new purpose. Unfortunately the goal of home ownership is often unreachable for many households. Down payments, closing costs, credit scores, etc. all play a significant role as to whether or not you will be able to become a home owner.
 
The Agency’s homebuyer program in Ironwood has been able to make home ownership a reality for citizens who have long only dreamed about the day. Our help with down payment and closing costs opens the door to something that seemed impossible. Not only does it accomplish that, but because there is also a housing rehabilitation component within this program, we can help the new homeowner address some of the problems that need correction to bring the house up to code and in many cases put a new face on it.
 
For more than 20 years the agency has joined other housing rehabilitation programs in both Gogebic and Ontonagon counties in adding housing rehabilitation to its repertoire in Gogebic County. WUPPDR does the same thing in Ontonagon County and the City of Ironwood does it in Ironwood. These programs are designed to address housing quality standard violations of eligible households. We have put in wells, septic tanks, roofs, furnaces, windows, doors, built or rebuilt bathrooms, kitchens, entrance ways, etc. all to help the homeowner and the family to have a comfortable and energy efficient home in which to raise a family and continue to enjoy it as we grow old.
 
Housing programs are very complex and require a great deal of coordination and cooperation between homeowners, contractors, inspectors, and the organization helping to make it happen.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
MILL STREET GARDEN THRIVES
 
 
 
With GOCAA’s move to the building in Bessemer, a new dining room opened in April 2009 and we called it Mill Street Garden. Senior dining is at its best Monday-Thursday 11 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Reservations are not needed and what’s more our customers now have options off the Deli Menu if they so choose. Head Cook John Rund and his staff work hard to put together meals that keep our seniors healthy and happy. In this picture Christmas Dinner 2011 was enjoyed by over 150 seniors and their families. Attendance most often fills the dining room.
 
 
OUR SENIORS ARE TREASURED GEMS
When organizations get involved in discussions concerning what about this area would attract outsiders to move here, we always talk about things this area has to offer like fresh air, abundant natural resources, etc. What is seldom heard and quite possibly the best kept secret is how we treat our senior citizens. The best way to describe it is the caption at the top: “Our Seniors are Treasured Gems.” Evidence of this is everywhere you look and for Community Action seniors are a main focus. So many of our seniors struggle on lower, fixed incomes and services are designed to support their needs to help them stay independent and in their homes as long as possible. The generosity of the electorate in both Gogebic and Ontonagon counties with millage support has helped us expand our repertoire of services that can include seniors of all socio-economic levels.
 
Community Action concentrates on in-home paraprofessional services – those non-medical kinds of things that are essential to safe, comfortable independent living. Personal Care, Homemaking, Respite Care, Annual Spring and/or Fall Cleaning, Snow Shoveling, Mowing and Yard Work,
 
Small Repairs are all needs seniors have, especially when family support is not available which is so true for so many who have seen their families leave the area for work. Our commitment to seniors extends to doing their tax credits, helping them select a Medicare Part D Provider, Advocacy in areas that require more complicated intervention, escorting them to a medical appointment outside the area, help unexpected emergencies, etc. Our Home Delivered Meals Program offers nutritionally balanced meals to our most vulnerable seniors still at home and gives some relief to care givers, and, of course, our the agency has strived to continue to improve our congregate meals for all seniors. Our Mill Street Garden has offered seniors a new kind of senior dining experience insuring a nutritionally balanced meal at an affordable price in surroundings that are convenient and welcoming. Seniors are our treasured gems…it shows at Community Action and it shows throughout both counties with the countless organizations who serve this population.
 
 
 
 
 
PARTNERSHIPS AND NETWORKING ARE KEY
It would be impossible to accomplish everything this agency does without the good solid partnerships and networking that the various programs within the agency keep with key businesses and organizations on a local, state and federal level. The key to thriving in a small community with limited resources is to build relationships that work together for their common goals.
 
CONTACT INFORMATION
The Gogebic-Ontonagon Community Action’s main office in Gogebic County is at 100 S. Mill Street in Bessemer (667-0283) in Ontonagon at 429 River Street in Ontonagon (884-2106) and in Ewen in the Masonic Lodge Building on M-28 (988-3751). For more information about the agency and its programs please feel free to contact us at any one of these sites.

 

 

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