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Agricultural and Labor community action agency assistance programs.

Financial support, assistance programs and community services from Agricultural and Labor Program are for a few counties in the region. The community action agency helps immigrants, low income families, seniors, and those that are struggling. While the availability of private and public funding will vary, in general some of what is offered may be LIHEAP utility bill assistance, housing, GED and Vocational Training, ESL classes, and other aid. Many farm workers and immigrants also turn to ALPI for guidance.

The Agricultural and Labor Program works closely with local churches, charities, and government offices in Polk and other counties to coordinate services. Together they may offer provide direct financial aid, referrals, and more. This coordination is key to helping as many people as possible with their needs in a crisis. If you need help and live in Hendry, Polk, or Highlands, call ALPI at 300 Lynchburg Road, Lake Alfred, Florida 33850, Telephone: (863) 956-3491.

Much of the aid is part of the CSBG - Community Services Block Grant. The goal of this is to alleviate poverty in the region. There will be some limited financial assistance for needs such as rental costs or utility bills, and it is combined with Family Self-Sufficiency, which is a form of ongoing case management. Those facing imminent eviction often get priority, as well as the currently homeless. Others that receive priority for financial support will be seniors, children, and the disabled.

Working with a case manager from the Agricultural and Labor community action agency, clients will go through an assessment with the client and develops a Case Plan. Together you will explore educational services, develop and follow a budget, access job training, and secure meaningful employment in Florida. Goals will be set as part of self-sufficiency / FSSP and ongoing follow up will also occur on a regular basis.

Additional job training and education is part of Project Achieve. This provides clients with ESOL-English as a Second Language, Citizenship Classes, VITA - Income Tax Assistance, Computer Job Search, Transportation and Engine Repair, and emergency financial aid. The focus is on job training, help for farm workers and One Stop Information and Referral Assistance. The ALPI Achieve Program is located at 100 East Washington Avenue, Pierson, Florida in Volusia County.

LIHEAP can assist with either paying for heating and cooling bills. There is one cash benefit payment per program year. The main components may be crisis assistance, which can help families with a shut office notice. The main, regular Energy Bill Assistance allows for a payment on behalf of eligible households in Polk and Hendry Counties who have a heating or cooling bill obligation. It is run in close partner with the federal government and state of Florida.




Housing Counseling is offered from Agricultural and Labor Program. The community action agency is a HUD certified agency. Eligible homeowners, and also renters, receive housing counseling in the areas of mortgage default, H.E.M.C., pre-purchase, eviction prevention, and emergency rental assistance programs in the region. Also, first time home buyers classes are available in Polk County. Learn about low interest loans to pay for closing costs or other housing expenses, such as security deposits.

Farm workers in Florida can get assistance from the WIA-167 Support Services. It will offer short term, emergency support to eligible farm workers who are experiencing multiple barriers that prevent them from obtaining or accessing assistance from other government resources. They may qualify for food assistance, shelter, employment, transitional housing, and other support.

Child care assistance is for children of seasonal or migrant workers. It is offered as a last resort when no other service providers or government vouchers are available. ALPI works to meet the needs for these families through the Subsidized Child Care Services or Head Start program. Most of the aid is for very low income parents. The Child Care and Head Start Centers in Polk and Highlands are state licensed and NAEYC accredited as well as approved by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Head Start is a state of Florida and also national program that offers comprehensive developmental services for low income, pre-school children under the age of 6. There is also social services for their parents and really entire families.





Another component is the Early Head Start program. This as well offers clients with access to fully comprehensive family support and child development services. The program is for low-income families with children under the age of three and even pregnant women.

What is available from the Agricultural and Labor Program (ALPI) is developmentally appropriate activities for toddlers and infants. There is also parent involvement and home visits in Polk County. Children also benefit from comprehensive developmental and health services, including dental care. Other assistance from Early Head Start may be nutrition and social services. ALPI George W. Truitt Family Services Center of Fort Pierce is a key partner of this program.

ALPI Child Care Services offer health and education services that meet the needs of parents of children. In some cases, a fee is due from the family for paying for their care. However case managers will work with the parents in an effort to help them qualify for government subsidized child care or vouchers.




By Jon McNamara

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