The community action agency known as Washington County Economic Opportunity Council helps the less fortunate, seniors, unemployed, and disabled in the area. The non-profit can provide free food, grants for expenses such as rent or energy bills, and more. The agency also runs some of the employment and educational services for Washington County, such as Head Start.
Clients will need to go through a case management process, which will ideally help them achieve long term stability. Based on the results of this, staff from the Economic Opportunity Council will work with the family or individual in an effort to help them scale out of poverty.
Washington County Economic Opportunity Council administers a Head Start program to promote school readiness through a comprehensive preschool curriculum that enhances the skills and social development of children from low income families in the county.
The service emphasizes family involvement in the classroom and site activities to support parents as the first teachers of their children. In addition, Head Start aims to bolster the parent’s educational, literacy and self-sufficiency goals.
The teachers and staff from the community action agency focus on health, safety and nutrition of the student. Some of what is provided includes mental health check ups, dental care and disability services if needed. Healthy meals, hearing screenings, skill assessments, and parent-teacher collaborations are among the many of the other services provided by Head Start. Enrollment for income-eligible families occurs throughout the year, with center and home based program options available.
Furthermore, the Washington County Economic Opportunity Council collaborates with local school districts to offer universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) as part of the Head Start program. This will provide services to encourage physical, social, emotional and intellectual development as a springboard for primary school success.
The organization also offers, in partnership with local non-profits, a summer program for preschool-age children at select sites in Washington County on a fee-for-service basis. Department of Social Services subsidies are accepted for the summer service and limited scholarships are available.
Washington County Economic Opportunity Council oversees literacy initiatives as well, with the goal of helping families develop a lifelong love of reading. Working with the county and churches in the region, they may distribute a new book and project materials each month to children enrolled in the Head Start.
Emergency food and pantries are in the region, and the non-profit partners with them. Eligible households may receive three days’ worth of food, snacks, commodities and personal care items once a month through Washington County Economic Opportunity Council or its partners. There may be canned fruits, breads, meats, and more. Food may be chosen based upon dietary needs and preferences.
Community Action Angels are coordinated in the county. The volunteers that take part in this may offer help to residents such as seniors to help them with basic needs, such as transportation or housework. Or the Angeles will refer clients to assistance programs and help them apply for aid.
The community action agency provides for the installation of energy-saving measures in owner-occupied homes and rental units across Washington County. This is done through its weatherization-assistance program.
What may be done includes hot water heater repair or replacement; adding extra insulation and air sealing; heating system repair or replacement; installation of carbon monoxide and smoke detectors when someone can’t do it themselves installation of energy-efficient light bulbs, faucets and water sense showerheads; and health and safety checks of combustible appliances.
Moreover, Washington County EOC offers the New York State sponsored Energy Star program, which helps income-eligible households lower their energy bills and make their homes safer and more comfortable by matching up to 50% of improvement costs (up to $5,000). Energy-efficiency improvements eligible under this program include many of the same things noted in weatherization above.
Grants to pay rent are part of Emergency Food and Shelter. The goal is to stop evictions and prevent homelessness in Washington County, and case managers do all they can to meet this objective. So in some years, the community action agency will have government funds to help with paying security deposits for the homeless, heating bills, or a partial rent payment.
Washington County Economic Opportunity Council can help people apply for section 8, or the Housing Choice Voucher. Among other services, this provides rental subsidies to income-eligible individuals and households. Participants generally pay between 30% and 40% of their monthly adjusted income toward their housing costs, such as utilities and rent. The remainder is paid directly to the landlord.
In addition, the agency offers a family self-sufficiency program to clients participants. This case management service provides support, resources and networking opportunities to help families attain self-sufficiency. Participants will work with a case manager from Washington County Economic Opportunity Council, where they will get training in job-readiness skills, obtain employment opportunities, identify barriers to and solutions for success.
The agency also works in partnership with the One Stop Center of Washington County on employment needs. This can help individuals, including the unemployed, benefit from the job training that is part of the Workforce Investment Act. Some of the assistance at the one stop center can include information on scholarships, the ability to access job postings, help in creating a resume, and referrals to employers. There is help for youth as well.
The organization offers a supportive housing program in Washington County. This is for previously homeless families and individuals, and is available as a transitional scattered-site approach throughout the county. Supportive services emphasize good tenancy and dispute resolution, life skills, GED attainment and secondary education, fiscal literacy and budgeting, and employment.
The main center of Washington County Economic Opportunity Council is at 383 Broadway, Fort Edward, New York 12828-1015. Call (518) 746-2390.
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