Community Action Agency that supports the central part of Missouri.

There is a non-profit Community Action that provides help to struggling families in the counties of Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau, and Osage. Many federal government resources are offered (such as LIHEAP and section 8) as well as state of Missouri programs. The agency will also have referrals to local non-profits and charities. Some examples of what may provided includes free groceries, job training, and maybe emergency assistance for rental or housing costs.

Energy conservation is part of what a Community Action Agency in Missouri offers. The main resource is the weatherization assistance program. It is available as a federal government funded grant and can help qualifying low-income seniors, homes with children and handicapped persons.

Some of the support may be part of Bee Wise-Weatherize. When available, this provides free energy efficiency services to the general public. Clients may receive help in the form of free Energy Audits, Geo-Thermal Heating, Weatherization, insulation, furnace tune ups and more.

This update can also assist in providing a healthier and safer housing environment. This is in addition to maximum energy savings that can be made available in the homes of persons with low incomes. The main goal of this weatherization service from CMCA is to assist those individuals that are having difficulty paying high heating bills and other energy costs. The program will, among other things, help them save energy thereby allowing clients to use that money saved for other needs, such as food or medications.

The Section 8, Housing Voucher Program, is also federal government funded. The grant money is available from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

For those very low-income families, disabled, and seniors who are able to enroll, they will receive a grant that can be used to pay a portion of their monthly rent. It will allow them to afford safe, decent and sanitary housing within the counties of Audrain, Callaway, or nearby Missouri towns.

Participants of section 8 are able to find their own apartments to live in. Families will be issued a housing voucher by a local community action agency, and this will go towards paying their rent or maybe, in some cases, a security deposit.

This housing subsidy, which is available in many counties, is paid to the landlord directly by the community action agency and Mid Missouri Public Housing Agency - MMPHA for the participant.




Low income energy bill assistance is another program offered by most Community Action Agencies, including those that support the center of the state. This service is available as a onetime cash grant payment and it can be used during the winter season. The benefit amount paid out to a client is based on household size, income level, age and whether they have a disability or not. The applicant to the LIHEAP program does not need to have an emergency or crisis situation to receive help from EA.

However, there is an Energy Crisis Intervention Program in central Missouri. This is offered from the non-profit agency in both the winter and summer months. All that apply for ECIP must have a disconnection notice or have utility already shut off before any type of financial help is provided. Participants can get up to $300 within the summer season and $800 during the winter, as funding levels allow.

Family Support is there to assist families struggling with the crisis of low income and poverty. Working poor families are often isolated from resources of help and support. Community action agencies in Missouri will try to offer this service to counties in the central part of the state.

Emergency aid and family support is a case management program offered to households trying to reach a long-range goal. During personal meetings with case managers, families, individuals and community action Family Advocates work together to identify strengths and opportunities that can lead to their success in reaching their goals.

Financial assistance and other Resource Distribution is made available through this service. This is generally offered when families are unable to meet their basic needs. Lacking the access to needed resources during a crisis or near emergency makes serious matters that much worse.

Sometimes funds or loans can be used to pay for needs such as rent, heating bills, food, and housing. These often must be dealt with before other needs like education or employment are even thought about. Through Resource Distribution, CMCA Family Advocates are able to provide struggling families with the help they need to get through emergencies.

Persons receiving TANF cash assistance can enroll into employment support from the Missouri Work Assistance program. Clients of the non-profit agency will receive a complete assessment and orientation to assist with exploring career options and aptitudes.

Staff from Community Action are available to provide case management services to the participants to help them in overcoming barriers that may be preventing them from getting or keeping a job. Work on resume review, job placement in the central Missouri region such as Howard, Callaway, or Boone County, and receive other career support.





There is also transportation assistance as part of the Work Assistance program. It can pay a few dollars for expenses for an interview or similar needs. Clients may also receive funds to help pay for Work Related Expenses such as uniforms, steel toed shoes, and suits. Tuition assistance is available for approved programs and schools.

Head Start is for children from low income households in the region. Those who enroll will be exposed to a variety of educational and learning activities. Staff provide healthy meals and snacks, help parents with medical and dental care and supervise children playing indoors and outdoors.

Head Start can help children succeed that are between the ages of 3 and 5. There are services available to infants and toddlers with the Early Head Start Program as well.

Students and children from Missouri will be able to participate in a number of activities that include such things as fine/gross motor skills, self-help language and problem solving.

In addition to that, the health and well-being of every child is very important to Head Start and  Community Action. So they offer comprehensive health screenings, free meals, along with physical and dental examinations.

Nutrition is another important aspect. Participating children from income qualified families are encouraged to try new foods that are balanced and are served in family-style setting. Counseling, Nutritional training and referrals are also available for parents as well from many community action agencies in central Missouri.

The Early Head Start program offers many of the same services, but it is for even younger children and infants. Case managers from community action support parents, both mothers and fathers, in their role as primary caregivers and direct them to self-sufficiency too. This is available across all of the central counties, and is a staple pf what most community action agencies offer. However the terms and conditions to Head Start may vary.

By offering Life Skills Learning Opportunities, households with low income can grow their knowledge and skills that can help them through difficult times. By using the Building Strong Families curriculum from the agency, Life Skills courses are offered in a variety of topics which include Parenting/Family strengths, Job training referrals, Budgeting, Home ownership classes, Effective communication, Employment/Job seeking, Weatherization, and much more.

Financial Education Coordinators are there to work with households and persons to help them with money management. They offer classes that cover a range of topics such as debt reduction, budgeting, credit, and home ownership. For those clients of community action who need more personalized assistance, one-on-one counseling is also generally available from a community action agency, and this can be offered in many regions include Cole and other Missouri counties.

Most agencies offer a Home Ownership - Pre-Purchase service. They will teach you the steps to take to become a first-time homebuyer. Working with a specialist, you will discuss your budget and credit scores, and how these affect your ability to purchase a home.

They will also help explain the mortgage loan process which includes the different types of home loans, reviewing a standard application, understanding a home loan documentation checklist, and your rights to fair lending. They will even go over activities such as how to choose a real estate professional and go over forms such as a HUD settlement statement, and other closing documents. Specialists will also address home repairs, improvements, maintenance, energy management, insurance, and foreclosure prevention.




The non-profit will teach clients why credit is important for more than just borrowing money from a bank. Staff will involve the individual and discuss how to read your credit report, how to establish and maintain good credit ratings, how credit scores are calculated, steps to take to improve your score, dealing with debt collectors, and how to avoid payday lenders and loans.

Free Foreclosure Counseling is available through certified housing counselors in the greater central Missouri area. The specialists have been trained in foreclosure intervention. Their staff can also work with individuals who are facing possible foreclosure.

There are offices that support families in all the counties. So community action does operate in Jefferson City, Cooper County, Moniteau as well as Osage County. There is also support in the Missouri regions of Howard County, Audrain as well as Callaway County. The exact programs offered will vary based on funding and other factors. For referrals to a community action agency in the central part of the state, dial (800) 477-4626.


By Jon McNamara

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