The non-profit Community Action Southwest provides help to qualified low income families in Washington and Greene Counties. The agency addresses housing, energy bill needs, food, and encourages self-sufficiency. This includes employment and educational services, among other issues.
Preventing homeless and addressing nutritional needs is always a key goal. The agency will also provide assistance to children from low income families, and this is mostly available from Head Start. Some of the other main programs offered by the community action agency are noted below.
Temporary and ideally permanent housing solutions are available. Using help from a grant issued by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, CAS provides services as well as loans for homeless families and low income individuals that need assistance with the transition to stable housing.
This is accomplished through a wide range of resources. This can include individualized case management, help with locating an emergency shelter or hotel and coordinating life skills education. Other programs from CAS include assistance with locating permanent housing, employment, and referral to other Pennsylvania community services.
Foreclosure prevention is provided partially through a grant from the Northwest Savings Bank as well as the United Way of Washington County. There may also be limited financial assistance from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency for mortgage or housing payments.
Program counselors from Community Action Southwest work closely with clients to determine a course of action and to obtain refinancing of their home loan as needed. Additionally, they provide access to national foreclosure prevention programs that are operated through the national Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Initiative.
CAS also offers counseling services and guidance to fully prepare residents for navigating the home-purchase process. The specialists work with potential homebuyers to ensure that mortgages do not exceed 30 percent of household incomes and help put families in position for long-term success as homeowners. In addition, counselors assist clients in reviewing or improving credit scores, and exploring options for down payment assistance and loan pre-qualification if needed.
Emergency rental, heating and utility bill assistance from Washington County Human Services and CAS may include direct financial support for those who are homeless or facing other housing barriers. Other solutions offered by include LIHEAP applications for paying heating bills and more.
Care Managers are CAS trained caseworkers who visit clients’ homes to assess their needs and provide referrals to appropriate programs. This may include resources such as home meal delivery, in home care and support services, SNAP food stamp applications, adult day care, PACE assistance, energy bill assistance, or rental and tax rebates. The Care Management Program also provides follow-up services to ensure that all qualified low income clients receive all necessary services.
Food assistance and Nutrition Services provide a range of programs and education targeting women, infants, and children under age five. The goal of Community Action Southwest is to provide a supportive environment for lower income families to learn about healthy practices that may decrease the risk of poor birth outcomes and improve the health of participants during critical stages of growth and development.
In addition to the education and guidance, the program provides free supplemental foods, including milk, cheese, eggs, peanut butter, fruit and vegetable juices, dried beans, iron-fortified cereals, and formula for babies. Referrals to other local community service programs or charities are also available as needed. Or families can get information on local food banks in Pennsylvania.
Financial coaching, workshops and classes will help people obtain adequate knowledge and the ability to manage day-to-day financial matters. Many individuals in the region do not understand that current decisions can have an impact on long-term financial stability. They may lack the ability to do basic interest calculations or struggle in other ways. To help address such issues, CAS presents a series workshops in regard to spending, planning, credit repair, saving, and borrowing.
Assets for Independence is a matched-savings account program for employed residents who agree to open a savings account at local banks to accumulate funds for an approved purchase. The money needs to be used to pay for a first home, secondary education, or even a small business. Each dollar deposited by the client is matched with a grant from the state of Pennsylvania.
VITA - Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program is for low income families or those on unemployment benefits. This is sponsored by the IRS. VITA provides free income tax preparation and filing by trained volunteers. The Community Action Southwest program emphasizes the importance of the Earned Income Tax Credit.
The full-service adult education program is designed to assist clients over age 17 with gaining skills necessary for securing family-sustaining jobs or passing the GED exam. All students are partnered with case managers from CAS, who focus on finding jobs, enrolling in post-secondary courses and programs, or eliminating any barriers to success.
Computer Learning Centers are available to community residents at Washington, Greene and Waynesburg offices. The computer labs are staffed by trained volunteers and staff who provide education in basic computer use, accessing the internet, keyboarding, Excel, and Microsoft Office programs such as Word.
Head Start is a comprehensive, child-focused educational program with the goal of ensuring that children under the age of 6 are cognitively, physically, and socially prepared to enter kindergarten. Parental involvement is a key element in every aspect of Head Start programming. As part of this, parents are encouraged to volunteer in their children’s classrooms and take part in determining program governance and activities.
There are many group socialization sites and classrooms located throughout Washington and Greene Counties, and the Head Start program even offers a home-based option as well. Families are also given the option of participating in full-day or part-day classes.
Services administered, such as educational programming, is age-appropriate and tailored to each child’s individual needs. To support physical development and health, Head Start provides free dental and medical exams, food, and more. They will also arrange for any necessary follow-up treatment, including immunizations as outlined in CDC recommendations.
The Early Head Start program from CAS provides center and home-based services to dozens of toddlers, infants and pregnant women each year. The overall goal of the federal government funded Early Head Start is to optimize child growth and development. Programming is centered on health, nutrition, education and development and education. Children with disabilities from Washington and nearby counties in Pennsylvania are welcomed as well to enroll.
Senior centers in Greene and Washington County are for the elderly and their spouses. Each location will help the older population of the region. Assistance programs offered include includes recreational activities, social interaction, workshops of topics such as enrolling into Medicare and more.
There are two main locations of the Community Action Southwest, or CAS. They include the center in Washington County, which is at 150 W. Beau St., Washington, Pennsylvania 15301, dial 877-814-0788. Or the Greene County location can be reached at 58 E. Greene St., Waynesburg, PA, 15370, dial 724-852-2893.
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