Network Connection
September 2020
Greetings Missouri Community Action Network,  
  
I sincerely hope this edition of Network Connection finds you well. As we are all getting out and about with more frequency and with schools returning to learning, some of which is in person, we are discovering here in our little team at Missouri CAN that the COVID-19 virus is beginning to touch our lives in new and different ways. 

I know each agency and region is doing its best to balance the need for public health and safety with the need for economic recovery, but finding that balance has remained an ever-evolving, enigmatic task for local governments, school districts and, of course, our Community Action Agencies. Serving the public, especially people in need, and keeping employees safe and healthy during this time has proved to be complicated for both CAA leadership and staff members. We’re all attempting to keep our anxiety levels at a minimum, but that has also become nearly impossible at times.  

So, how do you cope during so much uncertainty? I’ve tried very hard to push away from work for short periods of time and practice mindfulness, even in small ways. Much of what we’ve been asked to do and the ways in which we’ve had to change our lives in the last six months has created a feeling of isolation and loneliness, especially for those who lived alone prior to the onset of the pandemic. Even if you’re surrounded by family and friends and aren’t feeling particularly isolated, simply not being able to count on solid information and living with so much of the unknown day in and day out takes its toll on our mental health. Focusing on the moment and what is good can help us when we’re feeling overwhelmed.  

This article discusses several ideas for being in the moment every day. It is a reminder that unlike the changing circumstances we’ve been dealing with for several months, mindfulness is not hard to do. Take some time each day to do whatever helps take your mind off of current events—deep breathing, exercise, fresh air, even a meal away from your workspace. The article also talks about how limiting your multi-tasking can be a tremendous help. Setting goals that you can achieve every day and focusing on one at a time decreases the stress that is often caused by multi-tasking.

Finally, the author of this article brings up what I personally feel is the real key to less anxiety and stress, which is making peace with uncertainty. Not knowing or not feeling the need to know what tomorrow will bring is really okay. Make educated decisions based upon what you do know or seek out the information you need to make an educated decision and move forward. Don’t get yourself stuck in that cycle of worry. Sometimes when I get wound up in worry, a good friend of mine will say, “Stop. Don’t make a problem out of a problem you don’t have yet.” We’ve got plenty of things going on in today’s world that cause us to worry but making peace with the uncertainty of it all can be the most calming thing we can do.  
  
And…don’t forget to wear your mask, wash your hands, and, above all, show kindness and love to those around you; we are all just figuring our way around this uncertain world.  

We recognize the very real stress COVID-19 has placed on the human spirit. If you need self care beyond mindfulness, investigate what Employee Assistance Programs are available to you at your agency. If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, immediate help is available. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor. 
Dawna Fogarty
Executive Director, Missouri CAN
Network Capacity - Helping you help others
Upcoming Training: Introduction to CSBG

Registration is now open for Introduction to CSBG! This virtual training will take place on Tuesday, September 22, from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Brian Valentine and Andrea Davis of Missouri CAN will guide participants through a brief history of the Community Services Block Grant and discuss the fundamental principles on which CSBG is built. This virtual training is a perfect opportunity for new staff members to learn the foundation of CSBG. It will focus on the broad strokes of the Community Services Block Grant to provide foundational knowledge. Staff with an extensive background in CSBG may find the information presented duplicative of their current knowledge.  
   
Please share this training information with anyone in your agency who would benefit from attending, and encourage them to register!  
Equity, Inclusion, and Collective Impact

If you attended the recent National Community Action Partnership virtual convention, you might recall keynote speaker Vu Le, creator of the blog “Nonprofit AF.” Among his nonprofit work, Le has been working on equity and inclusion for some time. He gave a talk with the Collective Impact Forum back in 2018 titled “Beyond Seats at the Table: Equity, Inclusion, and Collective Impact” that is still pertinent today. The video and a full transcript are available from the Collective Impact Forum.  
An Equitable Approach for COVID-19 Recovery Response

The National Community Action Partnership has created the toolkit “Applying the Equity Lens to COVID-19 Response and Recovery” as part of its Community Action COVID-19 Resource Series. This brief discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted people of color and provides equitable approaches for human service delivery.  
Webinar: Taking Action on Financial Well-Being

During this time of extreme uncertainty and hardship, people’s main financial concerns are likely immediate and stressful. Practitioners, however, can still support action towards financial wellbeing through meaningful connection to the financial future people want. By bringing a mindset of equity to these conversations, you can reduce anxiety and shame about money to help people feel more in control. This means shifting from an emphasis on personal responsibility to integrate how inequitable systems limit what choices are available to people. Join the National Community Action Partnership’s webinar, “Taking Action on Financial Well-Being in Times of Stress,” on Wednesday, September 23 to learn tools and strategies for helping people move into financial stability.
   
“Taking Action on Financial Well-Being” presented by The Prosperity Agenda  
Virtual Webinar – National Community Action Partnership  
Wednesday, September 23, 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. CST  
A Big Thank You for Your Survey Response!

Thank you to everyone who responded to our FY2021 Training and Technical Assistance Survey! We received nearly 500 responses, which is a fabulous response rate! The Training and Programs team is grateful for everyone who took the time to share their thoughts and their needs with us. We will review the results as this fiscal year closes and look forward to presenting a full account of our findings to the Network as we establish our plans for the upcoming fiscal year. Thank you!  
Poverty Simulation Facilitator Training Update

Our regularly scheduled fall training had been planned for October 19-20, 2020 in St. Louis, MO. Due to COVID-19, we are rescheduling this training to October 18-19, 2021. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic as it relates to our in-person events. More information about CAPS Facilitator training will be available in the coming months. 
Advocacy - A voice for low-income Missourians
U.S. Census Count Cut Short

On August 3, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that it would end all counting efforts for the 2020 census on September 30, a month sooner than previously announced. That includes critical door-knocking efforts and collecting responses online, over the phone, and by mail. This is highly concerning, as it will likely result in many hard-to-count populations being excluded from the decennial census – including hundreds, if not thousands, served by Community Action Agencies around the state.   

NPR reports that approximately four of 10 households nationwide have still not participated in the constitutionally mandated count of every person living in the U.S., and self-response rates are even lower in many communities. Check out Missouri’s census response rate here.

What can your agency do?   
  • Make sure your clients know how to complete the census and by when they need to complete it.  
  • Get census information and resources from the National Community Action Partnership to make the most of the count.  
  • Register for the Partnership’s webinar about the Census and redistricting on September 24. Experts will share how the Census could change Congressional, state, and local electoral districts, impacting our communities for the next decade. 
Webinar: Weatherization Day Kickoff

Now is the time to start planning your efforts to highlight the impact that WAP has in your local community! Weatherization Day is a fantastic opportunity to shine a spotlight on the WAP across the country. The National Partnership is hosting a Weatherization Day kickoff webinar in conjunction with NASCSP and NCAF on Wednesday, September 9. Join CAP, NASCSP, and NCAF to access toolkits and resources that may be useful to you, particularly since many activities will likely be virtual this year.  

Additionally, Missouri CAN has requested a Weatherization Day proclamation from the Office of the Missouri Governor. Once proclamations are available, they will be mailed to each Community Action Agency involved in weatherization efforts. If you have any questions about this, contact Daniel Klote at the Missouri CAN office.
   
Weatherization Day Kickoff   
Virtual Webinar – CAP, NASCSP, and NCAF  
Wednesday, September 9, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. CST  
 
CSBG State Plan Amendment - CARES Act Dollars

Missouri CAN, along with several of Missouri’s Community Action Agencies, submitted comments to the Missouri Department of Social Services regarding the state plan amendment for CARES Act funds. While CARES Act funding allows states to increase the eligibility threshold from 125% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 200% FPL, the Department recommended in its state plan to maintain the eligibility threshold at 125% FPL.  

Our Network is in favor of an increase in the eligibility threshold, as we understand that many families seeking services are already above the 125% FPL threshold. To limit services to only those who fall at or below 125% FPL is counterproductive to the very purpose of the CARES Act. Instead, raising the FPL to 200% will leverage the experience, resources, and infrastructure of Missouri’s Community Action Agencies to deliver the services Missourians need now more than ever.  
Missouri CAN Capacity - Helping us help you
Missouri CAN's Region VII Report
It's not quite the end of fiscal year 2020, but we shared some highlights of the year during the Region VII Virtual Caucus as part of National Community Action Partnership's convention. It's been a strange year, yet the Network has done some good work. Check out the report!
Upcoming Meetings
We continue to hold our trainings and meetings virtually. Stay up to date on the schedule of our virtual meeting dates through our calendar of events.
Missouri Community Action Network Operations
and COVID-19 Resources
As the statewide association for Community Action, we're dedicated to keeping you informed of developments relevant to serving low-income Missourians. We continue to update this resource regularly with advocacy updates, information on CAA operations across the state, guidance from federal partners, and more.
Community Action Agency Stories - Sharing Your Successes and Innovative Programs
Share Your Successes With Us!

How has your agency innovated with programs due to COVID-19? We're assembling stories from all 19 Missouri CAAs to share with legislators, partner organizations, and the general public. We want to show the world how Community Action is helping people and changing lives during this pandemic.
Let's stay connected! E-mail Us | Missouri CAN |(573) 634-2969