Central Valley Opportunity Center.

Stanislaus County California residents can turn to the non-profit Central Valley Opportunity Center, or CVOC, for assistance. The is the community action agency for the region and the focus is on helping low income families, farm workers, and immigrants, among others.

Most of the support is focused around helping residents find a job, gain stability, and improve their educational opportunities. However some limited financial aid may also be available in Stanislaus County, mainly utility bill assistance and housing.

Assistance for Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers

The Central Valley Opportunity Center Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Program, known as WIA 167, helps farm workers obtain permanent, higher paying employment opportunities. They will work with specialists on local opportunities. CVOC also provides some emergency services, including financial support, to migrant and seasonal Farm workers, mainly in the form of free food and transportation. Only farm workers and their dependents are eligible assistance. Major services under this scheme include:

  • Educational services from teachers and staff, such as English-as-a-Second-Language, General Educational Diploma Instruction, Counseling, and Case Management.
  • Job programs including Vocational Classroom Training, Direct Job Placement/Job Development, Training-Related Support Services, On-the-Job Training, and Referral.

The purpose of this WIA Dislocated Agricultural Worker Program is to assist agricultural workers who have lost their agricultural employment due to lay off or business closure. The major focus of this program is employment training and job placement. Customers may receive a variety of services including; Vocational Classroom Training, On-the-Job-Training (OJT), Direct Job Placement, Computer Use; Counseling and Job Search Assistance.





Eligibility for this program requires that customers must have been laid off from an agriculture-related position prior to application. They must be unlikely to return to their previous employment. Clients must be legal residents and reside in the service area. Clients must be unemployed at the time of application.

Low income farm workers who have been laid off from agriculture-related positions and are unlikely to return to their earlier employment are eligible to apply for the Dislocated Agricultural Worker resource. Clients must be legal residents of the US and also reside in the Stanislaus County service area and they must also be unemployed at the time of application. Find more details on job placement in California.

The Central Valley Opportunity Center CSBG/MSFW Program provides a variety of financial aid, social services and activities to assist seasonal farm workers, low-income migrant as well as seasonal cannery workers. Services provided through this program include.

  • Family self-sufficiency activities and counseling.
  • Information and referral services, including help with applying for social services.
  • Employment/training and help with job placement. There is also information on work from home opportunities for migrants.
  • Translation help, transportation, and public education.

The program also helps migrant and seasonal farm works with their rent expense, emergency food and shelter, transportation and Public Education on various issues. Individuals that have worked in farms or canneries and whose income is at or below federal government poverty level are eligible to apply for this program. Anyone wishing to avail of these services must reside in the Service Area and also provide proof of residency.

The CSBG – Community Service Program provides a variety of activities and services that can be used to assist the low-income and working poor residents of Stanislaus County California. The types of case management and assistance provided through this program include:

  • -Help and advice in applying for social services or government benefits.
  • -Transportation assistance, such as vouchers.
  • -Public education.
  • -Employment/training services.





Education and counseling services from Central Valley Opportunity Center

CVOC operates full time service centers in the cities of Merced, Modesto, Winton and Madera. In partnership with employment agencies and other companies, vocational courses have been developed in each of these training centers in order to help to meet the entrance requirements of local employers in Stanislaus County California. The courses include a combination of demonstrations, classroom lectures and hands-on experience to prepare low income qualified customers for employment in their chosen field of work. There may also be free professional work clothes passed out to clients

Central Valley Opportunity Center runs a free General Education Diploma (GED) tutorial assistance program that will help helps students prepare to take the GED test. The goal is to help to enable customers to increase employability and income. The program is tutorial in nature. It will have tests and workbooks that are given to the student that will allow them to work independently at his or her own pace, either in or outside the classroom.

The non-profit agency provides counseling services to assist customers during their participation in the program. The counseling will begin during customer intake, enrollment and assessment process and continues throughout the entire program. Vocational counseling is provided to prepare the student to enter the world of work. Personal counseling seeks to resolve problems, which may affect the student’s ability to concentrate on the instructional program.

The Scholarship Program has been operated for over 30 years. The non-profit Central Valley Opportunity Center has awarded scholarships to academically-deserving students from the California Counties of Madera, Merced, and Stanislaus. Only a few scholarships are awarded in each county on a competitive basis to graduating seniors that are demonstrating financial need, academic achievement, and the potential for success.

Financial assistance from CVOC

The Home Energy Assistance Program helps low-income families by providing one payment per year to utility companies. The funds will be used for paying utility bills. Customers may apply for financial assistance or cash grants from the Home Energy Assistance Program through CVOC. Staff from the non-profit agency will complete the application, determine the amount of payment to be made to the utility company, decide customer eligibility and more based on the guidelines provided by the State of California.




The applications for Energy Assistance are submitted to the State who makes payments to the utility companies. Those payments will be credited to the customer’s utility account and any unpaid bills. Customers can dial (209) 537-9217 for more information.

Holiday Food Baskets are passed out every year from CVOC staff. They gather donations of food, Christmas toys, clothes and money to put together these holiday food baskets for low income families and the elderly from the county. Each basket includes enough free food to feed a small family for one week. A special part of the program will also provide the small children of these families with toys. Find other sources of free Christmas gifts for low income families.

The ECIP Energy Crisis Intervention Program provides one time per year payment to utility companies for low-income customers that have received a 48-Hour Shut Off Notice. Financial assistance is also offered for a disabled person or senior citizen or some that has received a 15-Day Shut Off Notice.

This utility bill assistance program also helps customers obtain propane and firewood for heating and repair or replacement of heating sources or furnaces. Eligibility for help from ECIP is the same as it is for HEAP except a 48-Hour or 15 Day Shut Off Notice from the Utility Company must have been received by the client prior to application. The phone number for appointments is (209) 537-9217.

The federal government funded Home Weatherization Program provides for the installation of energy conservation devices, minor home repairs, carbon monoxide safety checks, and energy conservation education. This service is provided to both low income homeowners and renters in the county who are at or below 150% of the Poverty Guidelines. All applicants will also need to own or rent a home in Stanislaus County and be documented residents. For appointments, call (209) 537-9378.

Job and Employment programs

One option is the CalWORKS Job Club offers customers help with their job search. Assistance provided includes:
-Orientation to the working world.
-Interview skill.
-Resume preparation programs.
-Employer contacts.
-Job matches.
-information on short term money making opportunities, including online survey companies that pay out

Customers who complete a workshop that was designed to prepare them for job seeking will also receive assistance in finding suitable employment opportunities. Also get help with creating a resume and interview practice skills. The local CalWorks program performs customer eligibility determination and referral of clients to CVOC. All participants need to be registered with the local CalWorks program.

Job Placement Assistance is administered by CVOC. The agency provides qualified low income clients with job placement assistance. In addition to that service, job development staff from Central Valley Opportunity Center will help identify entry-level positions available in the appropriate employment fields in the service area of Stanislaus County.






The primary objective of this assistance program is to secure meaningful and productive employment for customers that are found to be qualified. All students are provided guidance, job search and information on survival skills instruction. All of what is offered is designed to develop personal and vocational skills necessary for clients to secure and maintain employment.

A similar service is the Department Of Employment And Training – Older Youth. This promotes the return to school, vocational development, and the training and job placement of 19-21 year-old rural, high-risk youth rural youth by helping them build their academic life and work skills.

The CVOC out-of-school employment and job development program provides rural youth with leadership development activities, supportive services, and a number of follow-up services. Some specific out-of-school program services offered by staff will include pre-vocational training, work experience, ESL, OJT, vocational skill training, job placement and life skills activities for those youth from the county who wish to enter and also succeed in the job market. Clients of the program must reside in Stanislaus County.

For more details on these or other resources, call Central Valley Opportunity Center. It is located at 6838 Bridget Court, Winton, California 95388. The number is 209-357-0062.

By Jon McNamara

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