PORTAGEVILLE -- Delta Area Economic Opportunity Corporation in Portageville will have to resort to staffing and programming cuts if the proposed 2005 federal budget is approved by Congress.
Currently President Bush's plan will cut 23 percent in the $642 million nationwide allotment for the Community Services Block Grant, which provides funding for core programs and operations of community action agencies such as DAEOC. The Portageville-based corporation could potentially lose $200,000-$300,000 in funding.
Corrie White, Community Services director, said the cuts will affect DAEOC programs and the agency as a whole.
"CSBG funds are flexible funds used to support many community initiatives. If we have to cut staff and programs, it will affect how we provide services to the low-income in our six-county service region," White said.
Last year community action agencies raised about $5 from local and private sources for every CSBG dollar. State and federal programs also provide funding to well-known programs from Head Start, energy assistance, job support, youth services, job placement, assistance to the homeless and community development.
DAEOC's CSBG program worked with 754 students in 14 school districts to help them with college preparedness classes through the "Making the Grade" project last year.
" Making the Grade is a six-week course which provides a curriculum to teach sixth grade students how to enhance their study skills, the importance of long and short-term goal planning and of financial opportunities available to invest in their future," White said. "We stress there is life after high school."
Cuts in funding would also impact the popular back-To-school fairs conducted in July and August throughout DAEOC's service area. In 2003, over 2,143 area children received school supplies, health screenings and other services from the fairs.
While DAEOC's Homeless Shelter also operates from other grants, it, too, would be affected by a cut in the CSBG program, pointed out Tasha Treece, DAEOC housing director.
This past year, 47 families received assistance by utilizing DAEOC's Homeless Shelter in Sikeston. On any given day, the shelter serves five families and the shelter has a waiting list of at least 20 families, Treece said.
"Without the shelter, we would see more people living on the streets, in cars and many more children not receiving the nutrition and housing they need," Treece explained.
Another CSBG-administered program that would be affected is the cost-free tax preparation program. It has helped 524 qualified individuals with tax assistance such as the earned income tax credit, child tax credit and property tax credit.
Other CSBG programs include group work camps that rehabilitate homes for the low-income, disabled and the elderly; and family support helping families with education and employment goals by using such strategies as one-on-one tutoring for GED.
Thousands of people could be without assistance if the proposed budget cuts take place, noted Josephine Lofton, DAEOC Public Relations Coordinator. She said: "Many people depend on the services of DAEOC so the cuts will be a big deal for many of our families."