MAAC’s Mission

Strengthening the Social Service Community through Information Systems, Training, and Advocacy

Welcome to MAACLink!

Information Systems

MAACLink is a Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) and social service software suite developed and maintained by the Mid America Assistance Coalition. The system contains vital information regarding services provided to individuals throughout the communities MAAC serves. Access to this information helps service agencies manage limited resources more efficiently by:

  • Minimizing duplication of services
  • Capturing information about unmet community needs
  • Identifying households that could benefit from more comprehensive case management or support services

Training

MAAC provides Strengths Based Case Management training – a best practice in working with homeless populations – for caseworkers. This takes an approach of looking at and building on clients’ strengths.  Each year, MAAC also hosts an Annual Training Conference in Kansas City, designed to provide continuing education and information to over 200 service providers and agencies.

Advocacy

MAAC is involved in advocacy efforts for homeless and low-income people and families, including utility assistance and homeless services. The MAAC Fund Management Program distributes more than $600,000 in privately donated utility assistance each year.

A New Resource for Volunteer Opportunities in KC

UW 2

I’m excited to announce that United Way of Greater Kansas City is launching their new volunteer site – Get Connected!   This new site has great tools to help you find volunteer opportunities that fit your interests and connect you with people, events, and causes throughout the greater Kansas City area.

Get Connected works much like a social networking site where you can create your own account and customize the features to fit your needs.  You can personalize your account by identifying your areas of interest so that the site can do the work of finding relevant volunteer opportunities in your area.  Creating your account also allows you to link with other social networking sites so you can spread the word about the causes you are passionate about with your friends and family.

The website isn’t just for those wanting to commit to volunteering long-term either.  The events page offers information on all the upcoming volunteer events in the area, so even if you have a few hours on a Saturday to spare, you can find a place to volunteer.  For those who can’t spare even a few hours, there is something for you as well.  The site offers a listing of current donation needs by agency so you can see where you can donate goods to make a difference in your community.

If you are an agency, this site will also give you access to new tools.  Just like individuals, agencies can sign up for an account as well.  Get Connected provides a comprehensive way for agencies to share information on volunteer opportunities, events and donation requests all in one place.

I’m so excited about the launch of this new site and I hope you take a chance to check out Get Connected for yourself!

Jackson and Wyandotte County Point-In-Time Data Complete

Last Friday the Jackson County, MO and Wyandotte County, KS Continua of Care reached an important milestone on their way to submitting Point-In-Time (PIT) count data to HUD.  After many weeks of data entry (thanks, volunteers!) and MAACLink development, I created the master data sets using the new MAACLink 100,000 Homes report and turned them over to the respective COCs.

Of course we’ll use this data to complete the PIT count, but because we used OrgCode‘s VI-SPDAT as our survey tool there’s much more we can do.  We can:

  • Assess the acuity (i.e. depth of need) of people experiencing homelessness individually, by sub-population, and for the entire community
  • Track our follow-up with clients, including when they are re-housed
  • Create much more meaningful, detailed, and actionable reports to the community

The 100,000 Homes workflow and report are now available to all MAACLink users who want to take advantage of it.  100,000 Homes Assessments – essentially the VI-SPDAT plus a few local questions – can be added to any client profile.  The report returns all data fields from the assessment back in a .CSV client grid for sorting, reporting, and follow-up.  Contact me if you would like further information about how to use this feature in MAACLink.

What could you do, if you knew every person experiencing homelessness in your community by name and depth of need?

Critical need for Congress to restore LIHEAP funds

After the 2014 drop in LIHEAP funds, the President’s 2015 request is reduced, yet again… leaving an even greater rate of at-risk households with the possibility of not receiving assistance

The following is a statement dated March 26, 2014 released by The National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC) requesting that Congress restore LIHEAP dollars in 2015.

White House’s Energy Assistance Request “a Lead Balloon”

NEUAC Asks Congress to Restore LIHEAP to at least $4.7 Billion

Washington, D.C. – The National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition’s Board Chairman voiced NEUAC’s adamant opposition to the President’s proposed funding cuts for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  Mr. John Rich made the following statement:

“After the Polar Vortex, recent heat waves, a 15% U.S. poverty rate, and record energy consumption, yet another cut to America’s LIHEAP program is just plain wrong. Frankly, the President’s request is a lead balloon.  It’s a disappointment.  

U.S. LIHEAP funding dropped by a third from $5.1 in 2010 to $3.4 billion in 2014.  The President’s 2015 request is for just $2.8 billion, which is yet another 18% cut.   

Reductions through 2013 prevented 1.3 million households from being helped by LIHEAP.  At the same time, need for assistance has risen and the number of households helped has fallen from 8 million in 2010 to 6.7 million in 2013. More than 35 million households are likely to meet LIHEAP’s federal eligibility criteria in 2015.

This suggests that four out of five eligible households will not be served, largely due to low federal funding. 

As compelling as these statistics are, they don’t fully convey the human cost of cutting LIHEAP.  Congress has instructed LIHEAP administrators to prioritize households with at-risk elderly, handicapped and/or preschool-aged individuals.  These Americans have few, if any, alternatives.  They need LIHEAP to escape life-threatening hot and cold weather.  We have also seen in recent years that 20 percent  of households receiving LIHEAP contain a veteran or an active member of the military.

“Despite the good works of churches, charities, NEUAC, utilities and others, the cumulative loss of federal funds is irreplaceable. It cannot be made up.

NEUAC asks Congress to commit at least $4.7 billion to LIHEAP in 2015.  The numbers of at-risk seniors, preschoolers and disabled veterans are increasing.  They must not be abandoned.” 

Mr. Rich’s statement coincides with NEUAC’s LIHEAP Action Day.  Hundreds of LIHEAP supporters are meeting with Members of Congress today, to urge that Congress again return LIHEAP funding to at least $4.7 billion.

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Please stay tuned for updated related information on how Missouri is handling similar emergency energy assistance funding through Utilitcare.

The current request from energy and utility affordability and assistance advocates in MO is to contact the Appropriations Chairman and other committee members of the need for Utilicare and ask for their support to maintain the $6 million in the budget.

To see more information on the committee members visit http://www.senate.mo.gov/14info/comm/aprp.htm.

Making a House a Home

When an individual or family we’re working with moves into permanent housing, we’re often at a loss as to what our role is at that point. And sometimes, we’re surprised if people don’t take care of their new place the way we think they should.

home

That sense of belonging, of ownership and pride that we want for our clients doesn’t just automatically come when they get the keys to their own place.   It’s often something that is developed as they’re able to make it their own. It seems that for most of us, creating a home is less about the building itself and more about the emotional connection and sense of comfort we’re able to create behind the doors.  Last week I attended a case management workshop and came away with a list of simple ideas for case workers and advocates to help their clients begin to make a house a home.

  • Give them a plant
  • Buy a baking sheet and bake cookies together
  • Give them a calendar
  • Go grocery shopping together at their local grocery store and make a big pot of something that can then be divided into individual portions
  • Give them some picture frames
  • Provide them with activities to address boredom (books, magazines, or a library card; art supplies, etc.)
  • Give them fun refrigerator magnets and dry erase markers
  • Encourage them to introduce themselves to their neighbors

Most of these ideas are low cost yet they can make a big impact. What else do you do to help individuals and families make a house their home?

FYI – the workshop I attended was “Working to Achieve Excellence in Housing-Based Case Management” and was put on by Iain De Jong with OrgCode Consulting www.orgcode.com

 

 

Reconciling Food Waste & Hungry Americans

A report out this week by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that nearly 1/3 (ONE THIRD!) of the food Americans bought went to waste. That is roughly 133 billion pounds of food (http://tinyurl.com/k49abzk). Now consider this- in 2012, 49.0 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 33.1 million adults and 15.9 million children (http://tinyurl.com/lwqko2v).

In cased you missed that: 133 billions pounds of food was thrown away while 49 million Americans went hungry. OR 7.5 pounds of food per day for each hungry American Neighbor went to landfills. To me what this shows is that we need to collectively, drastically, change the way we look at food: how we prioritize getting food to hungry bellies and change how society handles food waste.

Enter the Food Recovery Network. This agency takes leftover food from college cafeterias, food that would otherwise be thrown away (and contribute to that 133 billion pounds of wasted food), pack it up, weigh it and donate it to emergency shelters and other agencies that feed our hungry neighbors. There isn’t a chapter in Kansas or Missouri but I hope that changes soon.

Food Recovery Network

But this is a multi-layered issue and will need multiple solutions and saving college leftovers is just one way. What do you see as other ways, big or small, that can shift how Americans treat food? Commit to buying less at the grocery store? Donating almost expired items to a local food bank? Vowing to eat leftovers over throwing them out?

How will you reconcile the fact that 1/3 of our food goes to the dump while so many neighbors go hungry?