Local Groups Make Block Grant Proposals to Council

At a public hearing with Springfield City Council members and members of the Citizens Advisory Committee for Community Development, local charitable organizations made their proposals for portions of discretionary funds from the 2019-2020 Community Development Block Grant Program.

The hearing is the first of several. The next hearing will be taking place on January 22nd at 6 p.m. in the Springfield City Council chambers where members of the public can comment on recommendations from the Committee and city staff.

Most of the proposals asked for the full $24,900 amount they could have allotted under the program.

While not all the groups who applied for grants appeared to speak to Council and the Committee at the hearing, those that did laid out what they want to do with the funding should they receive it.

Great Circle, formerly Boys & Girls Town of Missouri, said they would be using the money to offset the cost of case management for homeless children who show up at their facility. They currently have 10 beds for homeless youth and hope to expand that number. They said many of the youth coming to their center are fleeing abuse or domestic violence within their homes.

The Salvation Army said they were requesting funds for their emergency rent program, designed to keep families from becoming homeless. They currently serve around 40 families with rent assistance.

The Child Advocacy Center would spend their grant money to help offset the salary of a forensic interviewer. That person’s role is to speak to the children who are referred to the center about what they experienced in a way that is least traumatic to the child so that they can be given proper treatment and law enforcement can obtain necessary information in the event of abuse or neglect.

Community Partnership of the Ozarks wants to continue their Making Sense of Money financial program with grant funds. The program teaches budgeting and other money management techniques along with helping the students involved begin a savings account. The program is taught by people who successfully completed the program, as they have found success with a “peer facilitation model.”

Boys & Girls Club of Springfield has a program in McGregor Elementary to provide a morning program for students who are dropped off hours before the school’s post-8 a.m. start time. The grant money offsets the costs for students to participate in the “McGregor in the Morning” program. McGregor currently has 91% of the students receiving free or reduced rate lunches. The school’s principal, Dr. Sara Shevchuk, said the program has been a great assistance in keeping children in school and excited to come to school.

The Betty and Bobby Allison Ozarks Counseling Center would use their grant money to offset the costs of their services, which is providing mental health to anyone in the community who needs it regardless of ability to pay. Access to mental health has been called a “red flag issue” in Springfield and the Center says they see many people who need mental health care and have jobs but can’t afford the $90-100 a session charged by many mental health professionals.

Ozarks Food Harvest would use grant funds to continue the “weekend backpack program” which sends healthy meals home on Fridays with children who would not have healthy food available at home. The two schools that are participating in the program are Westport and York Elementary. Almost 90% of the students at Westport qualify for free or reduced lunch but not for the SNAP program that would provide them food on the weekends.

Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri asked for a grant to continue LifeHouse Crisis Maternity Home. LifeHouse is a transitional home for pregnant women where they are given medical care (before and after giving birth), education, employment training and job placement and housing needs. The funds would be used to fund two case managers to work with the women who come to the Home.

Isabel’s House Crisis Nursery of the Ozarks stated the money they request in a grant would fund family advocates. The House has served over 4,200 children and in the last year 50 percent of the children they served were homeless, in unsafe housing or experiencing a housing emergency.

The Kitchen, Inc. spoke to the Council and Committee about Rare Breed, a youth drop in center in Springfield along with other activities taken by Rare Breed such as a “permanent supportive housing” program. Money from the CDBG block grant would go to case management for the program to help previously homeless teens. CEO Meleah Spencer address recent controversy with the Rare Breed program, explaining that when the center was open from 3 to 7 p.m. there was an issue with violence that drove away teens who needed help. Spencer said the center’s new hours of 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. have alleviated that issue.

There were no comments from the public.

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