Two anti-poverty programs implemented by the Highland County Community Action Organization to address the needs of vulnerable children and their parents have received the 2017 Exemplary Program Awards – The Rural IMPACT (Integration Models for Parents and Children to Thrive) program and The Family and Community Navigator Pilot.

The Exemplary Program Awards, co-sponsored by the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies (OACAA) and The Ohio State University John Glenn College of Public Affairs, honor Community Action Agency (CAA) programs that demonstrate outstanding results in supporting individuals and families on their path to self-sufficiency.

The Rural IMPACT program is a collaborative, communitywide safety net system. This exemplary program is helping Highland County families to earn, keep and grow the resources and skills necessary for self-sufficiency now and through future generations. The program offers co-located services provided by a diverse group of partner agencies, with a focus on the needs of both children and adults. Multi-generational services include workforce development, Post Secondary education, early childhood education and development, health care and re-entry. The Rural IMPACT program is part of a national demonstration program with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, American Association of Pediatrics, National Community Action Partnership and Kellogg Foundation.

The Family and Community Navigator Pilot uses a single point of contact – a navigator – to work with families to develop family goals and action steps and to coordinate any services needed to move families from crisis to stability. All supportive programming is aligned and braided which is not only strengthening families, but is also creating greater efficiencies in program delivery.

Participating families in both programs have shown increased levels of achievement in comparison to their non-participating peers.

The purpose of community action programs – which are locally controlled, private, non-profit organizations – is to reduce poverty and to help low income people become self-sufficient. Board presidents and directors of CAA programs statewide were asked to nominate programs that met the outlined standards. Nominated programs were evaluated by a team of three reviewers based on the clear articulation and documentation of the problem or need, an analysis of the options for solving the problem or addressing the need, program development and implementation, program strengths, outcomes and lessons learned.

Highland Community Action Organization received these awards during the OACAA Annual Legislative Conference on Jan. 24 in Columbus.