One of central Kentucky’s best known social service agencies is refining how it delivers services to thousands of low income residents. The Lexington-based Community Action Council serves 30 thousand people in four bluegrass counties. Just last year, Director Malcolm Ratchford says his agency saw a one million dollar cut in state and federal funding. As a result, the Head Start pre-school program lost spots for 80-children. With funding scarce, Ratchford says they could charge fees for some services in the community at large.
“Cause we do a weatherization program and many or our workers, contractors, are certified in electrical, in replacing furnaces. You can do that and offer that same service in the community for a fee. It doesn’t have to be just for low income folks. Then what you do is take that money and put it back into your programs,” said Ratchford.
The Community Action Council employs 275 people and offers some 43 programs. Ratchford told Council committee members some programs may be eliminated. Others could be shifted over to other agencies….freeing up staff for new responsibilities.
“I have data that shows that we’ve served some families for ten or more years for emergency situations, so you must consider what target to you do next, meaning how do you get them to economic security and do long terms things such as programs that build on financial fitness,” added Ratchford.
Ratchford stressed this wouldn’t mean a cut in programs that help low income residents pay for heat, air conditioning, food and shelter. Instead of paying their utility bills, Council member George Meyers thinks that money could be better spent on home improvements.
“How do we shift that from paying for the utility bill every year to insulating the house, so that we’re not paying the utility bill anymore and moving on to the next family that needs help,” said Meyers.
Ratchford, meanwhile, would also like to sees someone on staff who has a better understanding of the council’s impact on the economy. He says such expertise could help the agency make its case for additional government and private funding.