MCS Community Services assistance programs.

The MCS community action agency uses funds from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity as well as federal government to provide low income families with help. The non-profit administers different programs, with a focus on helping families that are faced with a crisis and trying to provide them long term stability. Resources are available in Cass, Morgan, and Scott Counties.

While various assistance programs are offered, each comes with its own terms and conditions. Some of the main Community Services Block Grant programs offered by MCS are described as follows.

Tenants facing eviction may benefit from the Emergency Services Program. This will help low-income families who owe rent to their landlord or apartment complex. Financial aid may be issued using a government grant, or in some cases a no-interest loan is used.

To qualify for this program, clients must be at least 1 month behind on their rent payments. In addition to that, they must be able to show that the landlord has served them with a written eviction notice. Applicants will also be required to have some type of income, from unemployment, a paying job, social security, or TANF. This is required because the family needs to be able to pay the rent on their own after any one time assistance is given to them by MCS.

Clients who are eligible for CSBG services may also be qualified to receive help with obtaining some medically needed prescriptions under the Emergency Services Program. Other support includes advice and referrals to charities in Cass, Scott, or other counties.

The goal of the MCS Community Services Transitional Housing Program is to provide temporary shelter for homeless families. Case managers will help them make the transition from the streets or shelters to a new home. They will need to begin the process of moving toward becoming self-sufficient. Occupancy is limited, as it is with most programs.

MCS Community Services works to stabilize the client. The non-profit also provides support for families who are working to achieve financial stability and self-sufficiency through the Family Development Program’s case management services. To help ensure this happens, MCS has a number of Family and Community Development certified caseworkers on staff. They can explore job training in Illinois, debt reduction services, and other forms of aid.




The agency offers a number of programs that provide assistance for Morgan, Cass and Scott County residents who are having difficulty paying home energy or heating bills. Available services include the following, as there are a few options.

LIHEAP helps eligible working poor and struggling households with the management of the costs of winter energy services. It meets this goal by providing them with a one-time financial benefit, paid directly to the utility on behalf of the client. The amount of assistance provided to the applicant is determined according to their total income, household size, geographic location and fuel type.

People that rent their home or apartment can also get a grant from LIHEAP. They need a copy of the lease and other supporting documents, but it is possible. The bottom line is that this is the most effective program for assisting with heating or gas bills during the cold winter months in Cass County and other towns.

Reconnection Assistance provides eligible households with emergency financial assistance to restore heating and any other utility services that have been disconnected. In addition, the program helps those in Morgan or Scott who have had delivered fuel service terminated or are close to being out of fuel.

The LIHEAP program also provides assistance for low income households that are using delivered fuel from an energy source needed for heating and/or a delivered fuel supplier has refused to deliver to them. So it is flexible in what is offered.

In order to benefit from this, type of aid from this reconnection service, households are required to have made a good-faith effort toward paying their bills on time. They need to have been faced with some form of crisis in order for MCS to consider assisting.





For low income-eligible homeowners or the unemployed with non-operational or unsafe heating systems, the state of Illinois Emergency Furnace Assistance Program offers either repair or replacement of the unit. Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the State of Illinois, MCS Community Services runs this program. Furnace Assistance is administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and the Economic Opportunity Office of Energy Assistance, but it is administered locally.

Home Weatherization, or IHWAP, is a form of no-cost energy-efficient alterations and improvements to the homes of qualified families. There is a priority for people most at risk, including disabled or elderly.

The goal is to help them with conserving fuel and saving money on their heating bills, while increasing the comfort and safety of their homes. One of the features of Weatherization is a thorough and professional examination of the home heating system, followed up with cleaning and tuning.

IHWAP and the contractors that take part can make necessary repairs; retrofitting; or, if necessary, replacement of the unit. In addition, depending on each individual situation and the condition of the home, weatherization may provide for the repair of windows and doors, furnish the sealing of air leaks with weather stripping and caulk, and also help with the insulation of attics and walls.

Scholarships are available in most years. MCS Community Services offers income-eligible high school students who are planning to attend technical or vocational schools, accredited universities, or community colleges the opportunity to apply for scholarships as a form of financial aid.




Each spring, applications are sent to high schools throughout the region, including in Morgan, Cass, and Scott Counties. To be eligible, applicants must be either high school graduates or GED recipients who are planning initial enrollment in vocational programs or post-secondary educational sites. They also must be economically disadvantaged, as outlined in the CSGB income guidelines. Preference is given to applicants of racial or ethnic minorities, but anyone can apply.

The main location of MCS Community Services is at 345 W. State St., Jacksonville, Illinois, 62650-2093. Call 217-243-9404.


By Jon McNamara

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