Grants for child care, more weighed

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 19, 1999

Local agencies reviewed work completed thanks to a McKnight Foundation grant, and requested a continuation of funds when the grant ends this year.

Thursday, August 19, 1999

Local agencies reviewed work completed thanks to a McKnight Foundation grant, and requested a continuation of funds when the grant ends this year.

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During the third quarter review last night, Bobbi Burdick, the multi-county coordinator for the McKnight Foundation, heard requests for more funds and discussed projects that included child care, transportation, low-income loans and housing. Agency officials, plus two clients who receive services, were on hand to discuss the effectiveness of each project in the last three years and the need for services in Freeborn County.

Burdick said funding for the next grant would be a third of what the agencies received the first time, making it necessary to find ways for some programs to sustain themselves.

The funding decision will be made after the first of the year.

One of the areas that is doing well in Freeborn County concerns child care.

Vicki Duncan of Child Care Resource and Referral said, &uot;It takes the whole community to make these programs successful. And ours is very successful.&uot;

She credited the initiative of Freeborn County residents with success of child care in the county, adding that many members are bending over backwards to help.

With the library offering meeting space for licensed providers and Albert Lea Medical Center offering CPR and first aid training to licensed providers, it’s easier for new providers to get started, she said. Plus the McKnight money was used to help interested parties acquire their license and to purchase materials needed.

She has also been working with parents, daycare providers and employers to help bridge communication gaps.

&uot;One of the most important things is to get people to talk to their employers before their child gets sick,&uot; she said of one topic that is highlighted in a brochure produced with McKnight funds.

She also added that many parents aren’t aware of CCRR’s services.

&uot;They might get a list of providers from somebody, but they still have to call everyone,&uot; Duncan said. &uot;With our database, we can find exactly what they need.&uot;

Another program that reported success was SEMCAC’s Transportation Assistance Program. This year, TAP has provided vehicles to three families in Freeborn County and minor repairs to eight other vehicles in the county.

&uot;We’ve had to buy less and less vehicles because of the donations we receive,&uot; said Laurie Gilkey, the program assistant.

Throughout southeastern Minnesota, TAP has provided 36 vehicles and 45 repairs.

Applicants who can’t afford the cost of title transfer, driver’s license and one month’s liability insurance can have those costs added to their loan, provided it does not exceed $750.

Community Action Agency also provides loans to residents in need. The loans can be used for costs related to transportation, work or household goods, but cannot be used for &uot;leisure&uot; items such as televisions or VCRs. The loans are paid monthly at an amount set by the client.

Collette Turcotte of CAA said the clients can borrow up to $250 at a time and paying the loan off will help the client’s credit rating.

CAA is also trying to help low-income residents save money through a program called Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota. FAIM is a match savings project that assists low-wage workers below 185 percent of poverty to build assets.

The FAIM participant places $30 a month in a savings account, $360 a year. Those funds are matched, three to one, in a separate account by both a private match and a public match, each giving $540 a year. After a four-year period, the participant has $5,760 plus interest to be used for the closing costs of a house, post-secondary education or small business start-up.

&uot;The money must be reinvested,&uot; Turcotte said.

FAIM is limited to seven contracts in one county, but Turcotte would like McKnight to help fund those and more.

Other projects that Turcotte hopes to fund with continued McKnight dollars include:

* Transportation coordination while securing funding.

* Continuation of small loan program. Possibly expanding the eligible expenditures to families who have paid off a loan.

* Working with Minnesota Family Investment Program families while building careers. Through the FAIM contact offer family budgeting, how to save plans, home ownership through the Home Stretch education, starting a business, and possibly returning to post secondary education. Another education piece is problem solving. Train whole families how to problem solve for their family by accessing available services, bartering, networking and becoming more involved in the community.

* Working with SEMIF and the emergency fund to open another avenue of funds for MFIP families to deal with family or work-related emergencies.

Burdick said the decision will come near the end of the year on which programs will continue to be funded, which programs will receive reduced funding and which can run on their own.