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Local News

KIPDA to Lobby for Aging Care Funding

A local agency for aging and independent living will be in Washington next week to lobby legislators in the hope of preserving the federal budget for aging care programs.

The Social Services Division of the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency provides assistance to disabled persons of all ages as well as the elderly, and Director Barbara Gordon says the agency is concerned about the possibilities of budget cuts to aging care programs

“We hope to declare an important message about how important the services and programs we provide are to these vulnerable populations,” Gordon says “but also the cost-effectiveness of these programs.”

Gordon says the agency’s aging care services allow the elderly to continue to live at home, which saves money in comparison to the high cost of nursing homes.  She also says the services rely on government funding as a way to leverage private funds, and not as the sole source of funding.

“That’s another message that we are trying to get across, is that the federal fund are needed because it is you know, our county’s goal, I hope,” she says “to serve vulnerable populations and to make sure that all those who are in need have access to the services that they need.”

The organization will meet with several Kentucky lawmakers, including senators Paul and McConnell to lobby for funding, as well as the preservation of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

AmeriCorps Set to Expand in Kentucky, Indiana

By Elizabeth Kramer

Kentucky will get more AmeriCorps workers as part of the program’s national expansion.

The federal government awarded more than $230 in grant money to states this week to expand AmeriCorps, a service program with hundreds of members already working in Kentucky. The expansion includes $2.8 million for service projects throughout the state involving more than 150 more AmeriCorps members.

Eileen Cackowski is executive director of the state commission overseeing AmeriCorps programs in Kentucky. She says AmeriCorps members contribute to communities statewide and they earn more than an experience.

“Each of them will receive about $12,000 as a living allowance, and that’s taxed,” she says. “And at the end of their service, they’ll receive a college scholarship that is equal to the Pell Grant, about $5300. So, this is money that goes right back into the economy.”

Cackowski says members in the new programs members will fulfill an array of roles — from assisting victims of domestic violence to helping senior citizens.

The national service program now has 461 members in Kentucky.

One new program that will get members because of the new funding involves a pilot project out of Northern Kentucky University.

“They’re going to send college students into high schools and middle schools to help encourage kids of that age to go to college,” Cackowski says, “see if they can help them by removing some of the barriers, maybe by tutoring or maybe just making them aware of ways that they can make it in college.”

Cackowski says this project will involved 400 part-time college students and could be expanded statewide in future years.

Cackowski says AmeriCorps members have become a valuable resource for many social service groups.

“It’s amazing the number of children who are tutored; the number of homes that are built, rehabbed; the number of homeless people who are put in a permanent home; the number of seniors that keep out of nursing homes. There’s a tremendous payback to Kentucky,” she says.

Indiana received more than $1.7 million in grants for more nearly 400 AmeriCorps members to work with state projects from Bloomington to Valparaiso.

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State of Affairs

Racial Bias in Services to Children & Families

Racial bias seems to be present in all professions and all walks of life. But what if you encounter racial bias at the one place you need the most? Every day children and families seek social services for help with their lives. They put their trust in individuals and organizations that are supposed to provide assistance based on need, not race. But humans are in charge, and with humans comes bias, both conscious and unconscious. And individual bias can lead to institutional bias with minorities disproportionately represented, or treated differently from white people. Join us on Monday when we talk about racial bias in services to children and families and learn how to combat this problem.  Listen to the Show

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Metro United Ways Falls a Bit Short of Campaign Goal

The Metro United Way announced the results of its current campaign today. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

This year’s campaign collected just over $27 million, falling short of Metro United Way’s goal of raising as much as last year’s campaign — $28.5 million.

President and CEO Joe Tolan says the economy was a huge factor, with fewer employees at many workplaces where the agency held fundraising campaigns. He says the recession also pushed demand up and he doesn’t see that changing any time soon.

“Knowing that there will be fewer dollars available going into the new cycle than there were the year before, we’re continuing to do what we always do and that is to access and figure out how we can best maximize the available dollars, make the best investments, get the best returns in terms of people’s lives and quality of life,” he says.

However, Tolan says the agency saw increased giving at many workplaces where it held campaigns and that it increased the number of participating businesses in the campaign.

Tolen says the shortage of funds is happening at a time when the demand for services has increased 40 percent.

“Across the board, requests for services are up,” he says. “They’re most dramatically up in areas of basic needs like emergency food and the like. So, at the very time that they’re seeing less resources — that’s the conundrum — they’ve got more requests for services.”

Tolan says since May 1 last year Metro United Way has received 52,000 calls from people seeking assistance.

Volunteer campaign chair Dave Calzi says Metro United Way is already looking to its next campaign to help member agencies serve those in need.

“We have to keep focused because I believe that 2010 and into the future is going to be difficult as well,” Calzi says. “We’ve got to treat this as a battle because the demand is going to continue to go up and the resources are going to continue to be challenging.”

United Way Worldwide has projected a 6 to 7 percent decline in funds raised this year. Metro United Way’s funds fell by less than 5 percent.

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Local News

Louisville Stimulus Money Used to Direct People to Social Services

A program being run by Louisville Metro government partially through stimulus funds is helping people who may find themselves in need because of the recession. A growing number of previously middle-income families are seeking social services because of the loss of a job or home.

The program is called “Through Any Door” and is run by Roy Templeton. He says they work to help people who may only recently have started needing food stamps, K-CHIP, or earned-income tax credits.

“We know people who take advantage of those benefits that need them are going to perform better at work, their kids are going to perform better at school,” says Templeton, “so we want to make sure that level of achievement continues even though there’s maybe some difficult economic circumstances in the household.”

The program is funded by a $900,000 grant from the U.S. Agriculture Department and a $250,000 grant from stimulus act.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Metro United Way Holds Rally to Reenergize Campaign

Although the Louisville Metro United Way’s annual fundraising campaign doesn’t wrap up until February, it’s holding a pep rally tomorrow to spur giving. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

The rally starts at 7:45 a.m. on the Old Male High School campus on Brook Street.

United Way president and CEO Joe Tolan says it’s a way to re-energize the annual campaign, which has a goal to raise as much as last year’s campaign — $28.5 million.

“We probably need about $1 million or $1.2 million in order to get to last year’s total,” Tolan says. “And the conundrum this year is when it’s harder for many people to give or to give as much as they’ve given, we have a real spike in the need for services that has occurred and continues to this day.”

Tolan says the campaign has reached about 85 percent of its goal.

Tolan says the current campaign has been much harder than most because many companies participating in workplace giving activities have fewer employees and member agencies are seeking huge increases of need.

“If you look at things like emergency food, the jump in demand is in the neighborhood of 45 or 50 percent compared to a year or so ago,” he says. “And much of that demand is attributable to individuals and families who’ve never sought help before.”

Tolan says meeting the goal is even more important to member groups that also are coping with state budget cuts to social service agencies. He says this economic recession is causing member agencies to implement new strategies and pool more resources.

“All we have to do is look at what’s happening on state budgets, both Kentucky and Indiana, for the tightening of resources there,” he says. “And so realistically we have to look forward and say ‘OK, how do we do things differently than we’ve done them? How do we find efficiencies where we can?'”

United Way officials want to get 500 people to Tuesday’s rally so that it can cash in on a pledge by E.ON U.S. to donate $5,000 or $10 for every person who attends.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Study Reviews "Faith-Based Initiatives"

A new study says questions about hiring practices undermined President George W. Bush’s Faith-Based and Community Initiative. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The report — Taking Stock: The Bush Faith-Based Initiative and What Lies Ahead— from the Rockefeller Institute of Government found Bush’s policy goals were never fully realized because of doubts in Congress and among the electorate about providing public money to religious groups without controls on hiring practices.

That’s according to David Wright, who wrote the report and is the institute’s project director.

“The debate over whether groups should or shouldn’t be able to hire on the basis of religion if they were operating with taxpayer funds became the hot flashpoint in the debate,” Wright says.

The debate was highlighted in Kentucky when the American Civil Liberties Union sued the Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children in 2001. The case concerned an employee who was fired after she revealed she was gay.

Wright says Bush’s push for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives created a proliferation of similar efforts at local levels. The study says by 2008 36 governors and 100 mayors had established offices of “Faith-Based and Community Initiatives” or liaisons to work with faith-based groups.

In 2007, former Gov. Ernie Fletcher launched Kentucky’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Indiana’s Gov. Mitch Daniels created an office of the same name in 2005.

But Wright says legal questions about providing taxpayer funds to groups who hire on the basis of religion have inhibited programs from providing increasing public funding to faith-based groups.

While 36 states still operate these offices, some have deemphasized them — including Kentucky.

“The office itself does not seem to have as high a profile or as central a role in reaching out and encouraging faith communities and others to think about partnering and delivering services,” Wright says.

In 2007, former Gov. Ernie Fletcher launched Kentucky’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Indiana’s Gov. Mitch Daniels created an office of the same name in 2005.

Meanwhile, Wright says the recession is limiting the reach of the state-level programs.

“Certainly the demand for social services is increasing quite a lot for religious groups as well as other community groups that provide services without public contracts,” Wright says, “but it’s much harder for local and state governments to try to find sources of money that might be available for a grant or a contract to start a new service or a different service with a nontraditional partner.”

The study says the Obama administration is looking at hiring practices of groups that receive funding on a case-by-case basis and wants faith-based groups to participate more in developing policies. In February, he created the Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships. He also formed an Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

More People Calling United Way for Help

As the economy worsens, Metro United Way has more calls from people in need. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

Glen Powell manages the calls that come into Metro United Way on its 2 – 1 – 1 telephone line. Since setting up the free calling line two years ago, the agency has used it to connect people needing help with childcare, transportation needs and substance abuse with member organizations.

Powell says these days the economic situation has more people calling the number for help.

“About 35 percent of our calls this month have been for financial assistance and support,” Powell says. “That’s followed secondarily by individuals looking for emergency food and shelter.”

Powell says Metro United Way is working with member agencies to help find the resources to meet callers’ needs. He also says the line has had calls from businesses looking for services to help employees who are struggling.

Powell says the calls are coming from all areas of the metropolitan area and from people who were not previously low income earners.

“This economy’s got a lot of people looking for help that would have never done that before,” he says.

The agency says it is working with member organizations to direct callers to places where they can get help.