SOUTHEAST COMMUNITY SERVICES Inc. is committed to meeting the various basic and supportive needs of residents through comprehensive programs categorized into four broad areas: Homeless Prevention/Emergency Assistance, Employment Services, Youth Programs, and Senior Programs.
One of our main priorities is to meet the basic needs of residents to ensure they can remain in their places of residence. Faced with unemployment or transient work, many families struggle to make ends meet, from paying their electric bills to putting food on the table. The goal of our homeless prevention/emergency assistance program is to help meet residents’ basic needs and access a range of social services to keep them from becoming homeless. Resources are available for a variety of purposes including food, clothing, rental and utility assistance, as well as case management services including information and referral to other community services. We provided these services to 1,813 individuals/families in 2008, representing a 21% increase from the previous year. The number of individuals/families seeking these services is expected to continue to increase during the coming year.
Consistent with the needs of the community, Employment Services is our largest program area. On a daily basis, an average of 5-10 walk-in clients come to our facility requesting employment assistance. Our Employment Services program is designed to strengthen the economic viability of working families. In mid-2008, we began implementing a bundled-service *Center for Working Families (CWF) model through comprehensive services to improve job preparedness, identify employment opportunities, secure gainful employment, and build assets through financial management and investing skills to ensure long-term financial viability. In fact, we are one of only five Centers for Working Families in Indianapolis. (*Pioneered by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the CWF model helps low-income families reach financial stability and move up the economic ladder through full range of essential economic supports in a convenient location.)
The major components of the Center for Working Families/Employment program include:
· Individualized employment services, including one-on-one employment counseling, job search assistance, resume assistance, interview training, computer education, financial education, GED assistance, and job retention services.
· Group employment services: We provide employment-related classes three nights per week on topics such as resume writing, job searching, online applications, interview skills, basic computer skills, and English as a Second Language.
· Financial coaching: Recognizing the need to help residents appropriately manage their earnings, we added a financial literacy component to the employment program in 2008. We hired a part-time financial coach, and all staff received training in financial literacy (through the “Making Your Money Work®” curriculum).
· Barrier Busting Bank: Along with other members of the Southeast Workforce Development Task Force, we address residents’ individual barriers through a Barrier Busting Bank. The Bank enables qualified residents to address specific employment barriers, with the requirement to take a financial education class and complete at least a basic budget profile. The average stipend is approximately $300 each.
Teen Career Coaching Program
In addition to a long-standing summer youth program, we added an after-school program, Teen Career Coaching, in fall 2008 to further develop the academic and professional goals of youth in our service area (emphasizing the importance of education). This program has grown considerably within the past year, including a new entrepreneurial component. Major program components include:
· Individualized career and educational planning: Participants received one-on-one career and educational assessments, followed by individualized plans for reaching identified career and educational goals.
· Guest speakers: Through regular presentations from entities such as National City Bank, 4-H, Peace Learning Center and others, participants gain a new appreciation for higher education, an understanding of how to overcome barriers to obtaining higher education, and insight into interesting careers.
· Campus tours: Participants learn about college life by visiting local colleges and universities, such as University of Indianapolis, Ivy Tech, Marian College, and others. These visits go beyond the traditional campus tour, including sitting in on college-level classes and overnight visits with students.
· Skill-building: In addition to general life skills training, we anticipate adding a new skill-building component in the coming year, including crafting, sewing, gardening, and jewelry-making for youth to develop life-long hobbies and even small businesses.
Our youth program is targeted to ages 13-18. We work closely with guidance counselors, teachers, and local neighborhood associations to ensure that families within tour service area know about the program and are aware of the unique needs of each participating teenager.
The majority of seniors in our neighborhood live on extremely low, fixed incomes and face considerable financial challenges. Our Senior Center addresses these challenges by providing nutritious meals, social activities, and long-term case management services designed to meet the unique needs of seniors. Recognizing that most seniors have resided in the neighborhood their entire lives, the program is designed to enable seniors to age in place and foster a sense of community. With active collaborative partnerships, we promote independence, health and well-being, enhancing the quality of life for seniors. Program components include hot lunches, wellness activities, case management, utility assistance, regular socialization activities, enrichment, and transportation (to/from the Center, for field trips, and for routine errands).