Assistance is available to low income families from Ozark Opportunities. In addition to help with addressing basic needs, the community action agency works to help individuals overcome poverty through services such as SUCCESS. There are also resources for the disabled, elderly, and children.
Together, these various services for struggling individuals and families residing within Baxter, Boone, Marion, Newton, Searcy, and Van Buren County can help them overcome a hardship. Programs range from educational and meal services to transportation and emergency utility bill assistance.
Financial aid and support may be available from the community action agency as a result of the Community Services Block Grant. This provides training, referrals and assistance from a number of different bill paying programs for low-income families in need. The program also employs a holistic approach, working with entire households to relieve poverty.
CSBG includes services for education, emergencies, childcare, employment, health and safety, housing, nutrition and transportation. So in some cases there may even be funds in the community for expenses such as rent or an overdue utility bill, or when resources run out, a loan may be issued. Case managers from Ozark Opportunities may be able to provide referrals to resources within the greater Arkansas region.
Utility bill help is part of LIHEAP. Under the low-income home energy assistance program, the community action agency helps families pay their household heating or gas bills. Ozark Opp makes special provisions to serve the homebound and individuals with a medical issue. There is also a priority on the elderly and disabled persons in Van Buren, Newton, and other towns. The agency also offers free energy conservation information and tips.
The agency runs the local Head Start program. It can provide child development services for preschool children from low income families and their families. It works to equip children with the academic and social skills they need to enter kindergarten.
Teachers that are part of Head Start also continue to work with the child on long term development. It offers family literacy, free medical assistance and dental health, as well as nutrition. The state of Arkansas Head Start program also includes disability, social and volunteer services for parents.
Furthermore, Ozark Opportunities oversees an Early Head Start program in its service territory. This is for younger children, but is otherwise similar to above. It provides those families with comprehensive child and family development activities to families with infants and toddlers.
The year-round, federally funded service is available to children under three years of age. Whenever possible, priority is given from Ozark OPP to single parents or pregnant teenagers. In addition to childcare, parents of the student also have access to educational services and resources at centers across Newton, Boone, Barry and other counties.
Ozark Opportunities also encourages families with disabled children to apply for the program. Proof of child’s age, their total family income, household assets and residency must be presented during the application process, and space is very limited.
The community action agency also administers an earned income tax credit (EITC) program for low-to-moderate income working individuals. The organization can determine whether such individuals qualify for a credit or refund on their taxes, as many families overlook this benefit they are entitled too.
Moreover, during the income tax filing season, Ozark Opportunities operates several preparation sites for eligible individuals to have their taxes processed for free, and this is known as VITA. In fact, the EITC program provides lower income and senior residents with the opportunity to get advice and support at no cost to them.
Staff from the VITA - volunteer income tax assistance program are trained and certified by the IRS and prepare client returns on site. Program participants receive assistance with other financial matters as well, such as budgeting, tips on saving and opening an account at a local bank as well.
Case management from SUCCESS can address education, employment, credit counseling, and general stabilization needs. Staff from the agency work with the client and address the cause of their crisis or hardship.
Some local towns are served by the Section 5311 rural general public transportation program or similar resources. Ask a case manager for information on this, as many non-profits try to provide convenient and affordable transportation to all citizens living in the region. There will usually be a small fee required.
Ozark may have information on them, and referrals to those charities. This reliable, safe and accessible transportation is meant to help citizens attend to their daily living needs. As with most resources in the region, priority is given to elderly and disabled individuals.
A congregate meals service operates in counties including, but not limited to, Boone and Marion for senior citizens and disabled individuals. It provides them the ability to gather together and enjoy a healthy, nutritious meal in company of their peers. Aiming to promote independence and reduce senior isolation, the congregate meal program provides an opportunity for the elderly and older adults to interact at a fellowship-style lunch.
In order to get a meal, participants must be at least 60 years of age or disabled and reside in the area. Spouses of eligible persons may apply regardless of age. If disabled persons under the age of 60 live in the home of an eligible participant, they may also eat for free at a congregate site if accompanied by the participant.
In addition, local agency on aging offices work with Ozark Opp Inc. to operate a home-delivered meals, or Meals on Wheels service. Under this program, nutritious food items are delivered Monday through Friday to rural, homebound residents.
Both agency staff and volunteers distribute the free meals to homebound, elderly and disabled individuals throughout the year. In order to qualify for help from the program, individuals must live in the service territory and be seniors at least 60 years of age or homebound.
Ozark Opportunities offices are at the following locations.
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