Kankakee County Community Services assistance programs.

Kankakee County Community Services helps families living in poverty. Most of the assistance is targeted at individuals with a short time crisis, a disability, or senior citizens. Various forms of financial assistance are provided along with other support, such as job placement and credit counseling services. All of the programs are intended to end poverty in the region.

When it comes to providing financial support as well as grants, this will only be provided for emergency expenses. Everything from rent to water or heating bills may be paid, and they also offer repairs to furnace or AC units from LIHEAP. Another important service is the Senior Nutrition program, which feeds the elderly and reduces their isolation. The Kankakee County community action agency can provide referrals too.

KCCSI also helps with employment needs and overall financial literacy. Students with decent grants and that come from low income households can learn abut scholarships as well as loan programs. There are also many computer training classes organized by volunteers as well as job placement tools for those that need them.

KCCSI resources for paying bills

The Weatherization Assistance Program from Kankakee County Community Services makes use of state of Illinois and federal funding to increase the energy efficiency of the homes of low-income homeowners and renters. The program also provides replacements for poorly functioning, inefficient appliances, as needed. KCCSI serves as administrator for WAP in the area, and can help people apply. When qualified they can be given insulation, caulking, programmable thermostats, and weather-stripping at no cost to a home's occupants.

Emergency heating and energy bill grants during the winter are from the Winter Crisis Program as well as LIHEAP. Kankakee County Community Services can help people apply for this once-per-year assistance with the prevention of heating service disconnection. Money can also pay electric bills throughout the year.

Or a grant may be used to help pay for a portion of restoration of services for households whose service has been disconnected. The financial aid may also provide payment for an emergency delivery of bulk heating fuel when a 10-day or less supply of fuel remains. The goal is to keep the power and heat on of low income families in Kankakee County. Read more on LIHEAP in Illinois.





If the client's furnace is broken, or needs a tune up, then LIHEAP can pay for those repairs. If the unit is beyond repair, then replacement units may be given. A senior citizen with a medical crisis will be given priority by KCCSI as per LIHEAP terms and conditions.

The Emergency Services Program coordinates preventative services for working poor families. It is intended to help with a crisis. Funding comes from EFSP - Emergency Food and Shelter Program, FEMA, the United Way, TANF, and Community Service Block Grant (CSBG). Aid can be used for the following expenses.
-Shelter (including transitional housing).
-Food and hot meals.
-Propane/Deliverable Fuel.
-Work clothing or gas vouchers will waiting on the first paycheck.
-Critical household items.
-Rent, including security deposits or first months rent. This is available from KCCSI if the applicant has been displaced, evicted, or is living in a homeless shelter.
-Utilities such as water, electricity, and gas bills.

Kankakee County Community Services will try to refer clients to other assistance as well. Much of this will be public aid programs. They are used for long term support, so clients can get help in applying for food stamps and similar government services. They are also an intake site for senior care programs, such as Medicare.




Employment, credit counseling, and educational support

Participants in the Kankakee County Community Services Financial Education classes come away with comprehensive knowledge about the benefits of avoiding debts, saving and the importance of maintaining a bank account. Specific topics covered in class include saving a portion of income, banking, budgeting, investing "on a shoestring", finding low cost loans, insurance, and more.

A focus is on helping clients both reduce, and avoid, taken on debts. That can often be a major barrier to people living in poverty. Therefore counselors from the KCCSI community action agency will provide free advice, as well as information on credit card hardship programs and other debt reduction services.

Employment Services from Kankakee County community action supports motivated job candidates in their efforts to find and retain employment in their communities. There is an on site Computer Lab, where volunteers assist with filling out online job applications. Clients also have the free use of telephone and fax, writing cover letters, and Internet use.

Job Readiness Classes are held bi-weekly. They cover completing employment applications, resume creation, interviewing skills, personal finances, time management, work place survival skills, and basic computer skills, all of which are invaluable when searching for employment. They often lead to people getting hired, and keeping a job.

The non-profit is the regional community action agency. Kankakee County Community Services is located at 657 E Court St, Kankakee, Illinois 60901. For details, call them at 815-933-7883.



By Jon McNamara

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