SJR 223 (1993): Standing Joint Subcommittee on Block Grants

July 10, 2002

Continuing a 20-year tradition, the joint subcommittee held a public hearing on the federal FY 2002 application for the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) on July 10. The joint subcommittee serves as Virginia’s compliance mechanism for the required public hearing on the Community Services Block Grant. The Community Services Block Grant, administered by the Department of Social Services, is submitted as a narrative plan in compliance with Section VI, Subtitle B of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 (P.O. 97-35), as amended by various acts, including the 1998 Community Services Block Grant Act (42 U.S.C. 9901 et seq.).

Grant Application

Upon conclusion of the members’ introductions, introductory remarks were presented concerning the Community Services programs, noting that the community services programs are the foundation of social services delivery in the community. Following these introductory remarks, a summary of the grant application was presented.

The federal law requires the administering agency to submit a narrative plan describing the Commonwealth’s proposed use and distribution of the funds and how the assurances required in the law will be met. Total projected funding for the first year of this two-year grant cycle is $14,017,676, with federal grant funding of $9,692,401, state funding of $3,177,979, and $1,147,296 in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) money. Legislative actions will determine the funding in the second year of the grant cycle.

Recipients in Virginia

Virginia has 26 local community action agencies—24 local nonprofit organizations and two local government community action agencies—and three statewide nonprofit community action organizations—Virginia Community Action Re-entry System (Virginia CARES), Project Discovery, and Southeast R-CAP/Virginia Water Project. Ninety percent of the funds will be awarded to the local community action agencies; five percent are discretionary funds and will be allocated to the statewide community action organizations; and five percent will be used for administrative and operational costs for the CSBG by the Department of Social Services.

In Virginia, the 26 community action agencies provide a wide range of services to low-income populations, which are designed to assist low-income people in becoming self-sufficient, such as:

  • job training and skills development,
  • micro-enterprises,
  • child care,
  • Head Start programs,
  • housing,
  • transportation,
  • emergency services, and
  • water and waste water facility development.

Some other Community Services Block Grant activities are health services, elderly services, nutrition, ex-offender services, economic and community development, and community organization.

Monitoring and Training

The current grant continues the development of Results-Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA), the Community Services Block Grant approach to the implementation of federal requirements for measuring and reporting outcomes and for compliance with the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA).

Virginia is recognized as a leader in the development of this outcome-based approach. In the coming year, new goals for training and monitoring have been set by the Department of Social Services. For example, on-site ROMA training for the boards of directors of all 26-community action agencies will be provided and follow-up technical assistance and training will be conducted.

Virginia’s community action agencies have served more than 100,000 people in the past year. Individuals may be referred through many different avenues. Many of these individuals arrive with emergencies for which no other agencies provide assistance. Efforts to assist individuals in the transition from welfare to productive, active lives and to maintain families will continue in the coming grant cycle. Family development programs have been designed to provide multi-faceted help for families with many self-sufficiency issues, including substance abuse, unemployment, lack of job training, domestic violence, and housing.

Public Hearing

During the public hearing, testimony was received from 15 individuals. The public speakers, all of whom expressed their thanks for the services received from the relevant community action program, included the following:

  • One who works with ex-offenders in the Virginia Community Action Re-Entry System, a statewide program popularly know as Virginia CARES, who noted that no shelters or other places will take individuals who are reentering society from incarceration and that the agencies must find hotel placements, boarding houses, and other kinds of accommodation.
  • Several men who testified about the success of Virginia CARES in their lives after they exited a jail or correctional institution. These ex-offenders were provided assistance with parenting, drug counseling, and the practical difficulties of life that can so easily derail ex-offenders. All of these speakers noted that Virginia CARES was their only source of help.
  • A community action program official who detailed a senior program known as "Adventures in Learning," which provides instruction in various subjects, such as genealogy, bird watching, and related activities to 100 or more older citizens.
  • A young woman who recounted her experience in getting off welfare and becoming independent through community action assistance with training for employment, child care and hope.
  • Several other young women, who moved to Virginia from other states with economic and/or health issues, described how they had been helped by the local community action agency.
  • Several young people who supported Project Discovery, a program to prepare young people for college and to instruct them in what to do and how to get admitted to college and to obtain financial assistance.
  • A homeowner who praised the weatherization program. The workers insulated her home, repaired all broken windows, replaced the grant and back doors, and repaired the lock on the basement door.
  • A man who spoke about dire financial difficulties and the circumstances that can precipitate such problems, such as divorce, illness, separation, and unemployment. He noted that the community action staffers provide the needed help by talking to mortgage companies and making reasonable arrangements for repayment.
  • Three speakers from Northern Virginia who told resounding success stories. One man who was employed for many years in the travel industry became unemployed after September 11. He noted that the American Red Cross referred him to the local community action agency. Another man, an immigrant from Ecuador, described how he had arrived in the United States to get a better life and education for his three children. A woman immigrant from East Africa told of taking computer classes and obtaining employment. She was then able to bring her two sons to this country.

Subcommittee Action

After the public hearing, the joint subcommittee unanimously approved a motion to endorse the current block grant application.


The Hon. Charles J. Colgan

For information, contact:

Norma E. Szakal
Division of Legislative Services


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