Community Action Agencies and Services

Community Action Agencies (CAAs) are individual non-profits organizations found in more than 1,000 locations throughout the United States and its territories. The formation of these agencies came about through the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. The majority of their funding comes from Community Service Block Grant (CSBG), but they also receive funding from other national, state, and local organizations, as well as, private donors.

These agencies are designed specifically to help low-income earners across the nation to move towards self-sufficiency. They provide individuals and families with crucial supportive services, such as food assistance, homeless shelters, and day care centers. Collectively, the CAAs service more than 96% of the counties in the country.

How Can Community Action Agencies Help You
Since each Community Action Agency is individually private or a public organization, each agency determines for itself the types of services they will offer. Although, each agencies services may differ slightly, below is a look at some of the major supportive services that are offered by most.

  • Economic Development Services. Some CAAs offer economic development services by providing assistant with creating business plans and offering small business management training. They may also be able to help individuals secure business loans.
  •  Educational Services. Many CAAs manage the local Head Start school readiness program to preschool children in the area. They may also provide local daycare services to young children, mentoring services to the youth, and/or literacy programs for adults.
  •  Emergency Services. The majority of CAAs offer at least some type of emergency services to people in their community. These emergency services can include local food pantries, homeless shelters, domestic violence programs and shelters, and energy assistant programs, like LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistant Program).
  •  Employment Services. CAAs also provide programs that are designed to help low-income individuals find gainful employment. They may provide different types of job readiness, job training, or a welfare-to-work program. Some CAAs also manage childcare subsidy programs.
  •  Health Care Services. Some CAAs offer health services to the community by providing health clinics in the area, or provide financial support to help clients purchase doctor prescribed prescriptions.
  •  Housing Services. Many CAAs operate the Weatherization program, funded by the Department of Energy, the works to make homes in the local area more energy efficient. This is done through the purchase of energy efficient appliances, installation of new windows and doors, and installing more installation in the home. This helps to lower the monthly energy bills for low-income families. They may also manage a rental assistant program, and/or assist with home ownership.
  •  Income Management Services. Some CAAs help individuals with personal finances issues. They may offer support through income management and/or budgeting counseling services.
  •  Nutritional Services. WIC (Women, Infant, and Children), a nutritional program funded by the Department of Agriculture that services pregnant women and children under four-years old is often managed through local CAA organizations. In addition to WIC and the local food pantries, CAAs may also run the local Means-on-Wheels program to provide meals to seniors in the community.
  •  Transportation Services. Some CAAs agencies provide on-demand transportation services to their clients to help them receive vital supportive services in the community.

How to Find Help
If you are in need of any type of assistance listed above, you should contact your local Community Action Agency immediately. You can find your local Community Action Agency listed in your local phonebook or you can go to the Community Action Partnership website. They offer a complete listing of all the national CAAs by state to help you find one that services your specific county. Since each CAA organization offers different services, you will need to contact them directly to see what types of specific services your local CAA can help you.

The primary goal of Community Action Agencies is to help individuals and families move from poverty to self-sufficiency by providing the supportive services they need. They are designed to provide a majority of the supportive services their clients need at one convenient location. This means that you will be able to receive many of the services you at one location.