SJR 223 (1993): Standing Joint Subcommittee on Block Grants
August 3, 2004
With 2004 being a
grant renewal year, the Joint Subcommittee on Block Grants continued its
long-standing tradition of holding a public hearing on federal applications
for Community Action Block Grants. The 13-member joint subcommittee has
served as Virginias compliance mechanism for required public hearings
on federal grant applications for more than 20 years.
Although the joint
sub-committees hearings in previous years have covered as many as
three grant applications, only the Community Action Block Grant is currently
submitted to it for public hearing. The Community Action Block Grant,
administered by the Department of Social Services, is submitted as a narrative
plan in compliance with Title VI, Subtitle B, of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation
Act of 1981, as amended by various provisions, including the 1998 Community
Action Block Grant Act (42 U.S.C. 9901 et seq.).
of the Department of Social Services presented an overview of the application.
Community action agencies will be assisting the department in its initiative
to increase the number of working families who claim the federal earned
income tax credit (EIC). Virginians eligible for the earned income tax
credit were leaving an estimated $160 million on the tablean amount
that certainly could enhance the incomes of eligible working families.
In the coming year, the community action agencies will be partnering with
the department in this effort. In response to various questions relating
to why people do not take advantage of the credit, the commissioner explained
that many people are not aware of it and that many people need help in
preparing their tax forms. This effort will be cooperative and collaborative
across several venues, with outreach and training and assistance with
the tax returns.
Virginia has 26
local community action agencies (24 local nonprofit organizations and
two local public community action agencies) and three statewide nonprofit
community action organizationsVirginia Community Action Re-entry
System (Virginia CARES), Project Discovery, and Southeast RCAP/Virginia
was informed that 90 percent of the available federal funds will be passed
through to the local community action agencies; five percent of the funds
will be allocated to the statewide organizations. Total projected funding
for the first year of this two-year grant cycle is $14,571,248, with federal
grant funding of $9,673,389, state funding of $1.5 million, and $3,397,859
in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) money. Legislative actions
will determine the funding in the second year of the grant cycle.
During the public
hearing, testimony was received from 17 individuals as well as the president
and the director of the Virginia Community Action Partnership (VACAP).
The remarks noted that even in the Northern Virginia community of Arlington,
frequently viewed as a wealthy county, there are increasing needs for
the safety net services of community action agencies for people who are
in need of immediate help with the basics of life.
The difference between
social services and community action was emphasized, with the community
action agencies delivering $9 of services for every $1 of funding, thereby
providing a real return on the federal and state investments.
talked about the link between eliminating poverty, education, and the
need for assisting ex-offenders in the transition to a normal life. He
introduced the leaders/teachers and several children from Freedom School
in Portsmouth. The teachers described the concepts of the school, such
as emphasizing the importance of voting, promoting reading through a drop
everything and read project, and inspiring the children to become
better students and lead productive lives.
described the help they had received in becoming gainfully employed and
continuing to enhance their job and living skills. Several young women
explained their plans for collegean aspiration encouraged by Project
Discovery and the local community action agencies through cultural enrichment
and youth programs.
described a program of youth enrichment in a rural area that has very
few activities for adolescents between 12 and 15 years old during the
summer. The program is designed to reach the parents and to encourage
sincere community dialogue and has extended well beyond the community
action agency by enlisting the cooperation of 18 churches in the area
as well as the local Rotary Club.
of the public hearing, the members discussed the community action programs,
noting that the quality of the services has improved with the accountability
component of the grant. The subcommittee also observed that the community
action programs serve the people who are least able to speak for themselves
and least likely to obtain other assistance. The joint subcommittee unanimously
approved a motion to endorse the current block grant application for submission.
The Hon. Charles J. Colgan
Division of Legislative Services
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