COLUMNS

UWSC uses ASSET to determine program funding

Kim Mack

The mission of United Way of Story County (UWSC) is to be a strategic leader in building countywide partnerships to identify needs and to develop, support, and evaluate effective human services, especially in the areas of education, income, and health, for our diverse community. A key component of the mission – evaluate effective human services – explains how we determine whether the financial investments we make in programs are making a difference. And that is important.

The UWSC board of directors income work team reviewed the work UWSC had already been involved with through the ASSET (Analysis of Social Services Team) process. The work team put forth one result for UWSC and partner agencies to focus on: individuals and families achieving financial stability.

ASSET is comprised of staff and volunteers from the city of Ames, Story County, ISU Student Government, United Way of Story County and Central Iowa Community Services. This team annually reviews programs, budgets and outcomes of human services in Story County, then makes recommendations for funding to their respective boards.

The income work team reviewed the programs defined by ASSET as helping individuals and families to achieve financial stability. These programs included emergency-based services, such as shelter, rent and utility assistance, meals, and disaster services; legal assistance and bill-paying assistance.

If asked what emergency shelter was available in Story County, you may readily recall that Emergency Residence Project has temporary housing available for the homeless. However, there are other types of emergency shelter available for those fleeing domestic abuse at ACCESS and for youth at YSS. To prevent homelessness, emergency rent and utility assistance can be sought out at Good Neighbor Emergency Assistance (GNEA) and The Salvation Army (TSA). UWSC also supports supplemental meals through the food pantries at Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) and TSA, Healthy Food Vouchers at GNEA and a commodity program for seniors at Heartland Senior Services. Disaster services were provided by American Red Cross last year for individuals who had suffered from home fires and flooding, and by TSA to support the first responders as they support victims during the initial crisis.

Legal aid is provided to income-eligible residents. The civil cases that Legal Aid Society of Story County takes can result in an individual or family becoming more financially stable through child support orders and Social Security benefits.

TSA provides bill-payer and representative payee services. The bill-payer program assists clients in creating a monthly budget, paying bills and balancing their checkbook. The Social Security Administration defines TSA’s role as a representative payee of assisting clients to manage the basic monthly expenses of shelter, food and medical care, and to pay off past debt as finances allow. The clients utilizing this service have difficulty maintaining basic necessities without someone monitoring their money.

United Way of Story County’s Women with Initiative program also provides support to women and their families in their journey to achieve financial stability. This program will be featured in a future column.

Supporting these programs and others will help us continue to make an impact on financial stability. Helping to ensure all Story County residents are financially stable will make for a stronger community for everyone.

Kim Mack is marketing director for Unted Way Story County.