Community Assessment for Washington County 2018
Adopted by L.E.A.P. Board of Directors: 9/9/19
L.E.A.P. will be known throughout the community as a highly effective nonprofit agency that provides comprehensive, top-quality programs and outreach services to the public.
We support Individuals and Families in attaining Self-Sufficiency
By providing Services, Sharing Resources and through Community Collaboration.
The Resiliency of the Human Spirit
Each Individual’s Right to Self-determination
The Integrity and Professional Behavior of Our Staff
Our Customers’ Engagement and Active Participation in the Services Received
Our Responsibility and Accountability for the Operation of Quality Programs
Washington County Economic Opportunity Council, Inc. (d.b.a. L.E.A.P) was incorporated in 1966 as a 501(c) 3 to operate as the designated Community Action Agency in Washington County. The purpose of Community Action Agencies is to determine the causes and condition of poverty in their service area and assist individuals and communities in improving economic and social well-being.
For 2018 L.E.A.P. has an operating budget of $6.5 million. L.E.A.P. is the second largest non-profit in Washington County with approximately 130 employees annually and a total payroll of $4.02 million (wages and fringe). The primary source of revenue for the agency is Federal Grant funds awarded for the operation of traditional Anti-Poverty programs including Head Start/Early Head Start, and Community Services Block Grant. L.E.A.P. is a partner in the Workforce Development System (WIOA) for the operation of DOL programs. In our last audit year, it was determined that for every dollar invested in L.E.A.P. $0.93 goes back into the community as services to support our service area. L.E.A.P. works with a network of community partners, in both the public and private sector, to monitor community needs and work together to reduce the barriers to self-sufficiency.
L.E.A.P. operates two divisions. The first, and largest division, is Head Start/Early Head Start, an early childhood education program for income qualified and disabled children and families that serves pregnant women and children from birth to 5 years of age. Operating under the Department of Health and Human Services, we have operated our program since 1967. We are authorized to serve 420 children in both Head Start and Early Head Start. We operate five centers around the county and serve those families in the hard to reach places in the county in a comprehensive home visiting program. In addition to operating under strict Performance Standards through the Office of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, we are also a licensed day care provider and regulated by the NYS Office of Children and Families. We are currently operating in the fourth year of a five year grant award.
The following community assessment will highlight changes in our service area demographics and needs that will force us to address Head Start operations in support of the changing needs of our county. In July of 2018 we filed an application to reduce enrollment based on demonstrated community needs.
We anticipate that our new 5 year application that will be filed in 2019 will reflect our response to changing community needs as well.
The second Division, Career and Family Services, brings the remaining L.E.A.P. programs together into an integrated service delivery model that allows consumers full access to Work Force, nutritional supports, emergency assistance and transportation in a one stop environment. In 2017, approximately 3000 received assistance through this division. The Career and Family Services center also serves as a referral point for customers who have needs that can be addressed by other providers and programs within the community.
Based on feedback from our 2015 Community Assessment L.E.A.P. has adopted the philosophies and practices outlined in Ruby Payne’s Bridges Out of Poverty. We actively seek to support an individual’s ability to identify the resources necessary for their success. Our role is to help each person access
necessary resources and when necessary resources are not available actively work together with community partners to fill those gaps.
L.E.A.P. is required to complete Community Assessment every three years as a condition of continued funding through both CSBG and Head Start. The purpose of the Assessment is to investigate the causes of conditions of poverty, determine local needs, and identify opportunities and gaps in available resources within the community. Our Assessment is widely shared within our service delivery area and used in planning both internally and across the region. The Community Assessment forms the foundation of our agency’s strategic planning process and guides our planning for the services we provide and the direction we take to mitigate the causes of poverty within our communities and reduce the barriers to the achievement of individual self-sufficiency.
The organizational standards of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) require that an assessment include both quantitative and qualitative data specific to poverty and its prevalence in the community. The Assessment must also include the input of stakeholders within the community including the consumers of our services. The Head Start Performance Standard 1302.11 requires that this data be collected and examined as it applies to children and families living in poverty and/or with disabilities within the community. Data contained in this assessment is updated annually as part of the agencies strategic planning and funding application narratives as required.
L.E.A.P. believes that a true Community Assessment involves input and support across the community and the collection of data from many sources. Our Assessment process began in March of 2018 with a well-attended community meeting.
The foundation of data collection starts with a Comprehensive Report through Community Commons – a community assessment profile was created for Washington County on March 28, 2018 and updated on November 26, 2018 (unemployment and income numbers). Additional town specific data was obtained through the American Community Survey of the US census and other federal data sources.
In June of 2018 3 surveys were administered to determine qualitative issues. The first was widely distributed across the county to capture the input of consumers and other residents of our service area. The second survey was provided to partners and community organizations across public and private sectors, the third survey was directed to the staff, volunteers and Board of L.E.A.P. Additional Quantitative Data is incorporated from the United Ways ALICE project. Qualitative data for was obtained from community conversations held during the summer of 2018 around areas of identified community need such as transportation, housing, population health, workforce development and childcare conversations.
The results of these surveys, quantitative data and community conversations is discussed and summarized in this assessment, including recommendations for agency programming and community wide actions to address the causes and conditions of poverty.
As with the 2015 Community Assessment, the findings and recommendations will be shared with local government, community partners, schools and businesses. The assessment will be used to drive a
coordinated community response across the service area and for agency planning and service delivery over the next 3 years.
Washington County – Geography, Economy and Culture
Established in 1784 Washington County is in northeastern NYS, between the western border of the state of Vermont and the eastern banks of the Hudson River and Lake George. The county is 82 miles long, north to south, and varies from 14 to 26 miles wide with a total of 835.44 square miles. The land is classified as 55% woodland and 32% agricultural. The economy is primarily agricultural with a heavy concentration of small family dairies and orchards. Economic pressure on family farmers has forced an increase in closures of smaller family farms or a conversion from dairy to other agricultural production. Washington County remains one of the leading dairy counties in the state. Agriculture accounts for
$224 million of annual revenues (www.co.washington.ny.gov).
Washington County has a rich history dating back to the French and Indian, and Revolutionary Wars, with many historic sites located throughout the county (Fort Edward, Whitehall and Salem).
Communities across the county claim both real and humorous historical identities. For example, Granville is known as the “Slate Capital of the World”, yielding the world’s only source of red slate; the Village of Cambridge is the home of “Pie a la Mode”. The Village of Whitehall is the “Birthplace of the US Navy” and more recently the “Home of Bigfoot”. These identities demonstrate the pride and tradition that characterizes communities across the county. Residents and tourists alike take advantage of the numerous recreational activities including skiing, biking, boating, fishing and hiking. The northern half of the county sits in the Adirondack Park and is characterized as primarily mountainous and forested. The Southern and Eastern part of the county has rolling hills and flatlands.
The county is divided into 17 towns with 9 incorporated villages spread through the county. The largest town in the county, Kingsbury, located at the middle of the western edge of the county contains Hudson Falls, the largest incorporated village with the county. Hudson Falls is closely aligned with the Village of Fort Edward (located in the Town of Fort Edward). These communities are the central location of county government. These communities are also adjacent to the City of Glens Falls in neighboring Warren County and are considered part of the Glens Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The county is governed by a Board of Supervisors (the elected heard of each town). The county remains the primary provider of social services and supports within the community, including Social Services, Aging, Public Health, Veterans and Youth Programs. There are 11 school districts, all with UPK services which are operated by the districts.
Washington County has a population of 62,465 (2016 ACS) which, has decreased by772 individuals since 2013. Population is anticipated to continue to fall in the coming years. The population is 51.37% male and 48.63% female. The largest age group is between 18 and 64, with significant growth of those 64 and older and a decline in children under the age of 18 since 2013.
The population is neither racially nor ethnically diverse, though there is an appreciable increase in the Black/African American, non-Hispanic populations. (The town of Fort Ann has the single largest
concentration of Black African American population located in group quarters (state prison)). Outside of Fort Ann, racial and ethnic populations appear to be consistent across the county.
Households and families are basic units highlighted in demographic summaries. A household is composed of one or more people who occupy a housing unit, regardless of relationship. Not all households contain families. Under the U.S. Census Bureau definition, family households consist of two or more individuals who are related by birth, marriage, or adoption, although they also may include other unrelated people. Nonfamily households consist of people who live alone or who share their residence with unrelated individuals. (Population Reference Bureau, 2003)
There are 24,027 households in Washington County. This represents a 6.99% increase in households since 2000. This increased number could be due to increased co-habitation for economic reasons, or any other non- traditional living arrangement. Of those identified households, there are 16,311 families (2016 ACS); this is 571 families less than what was reported in 2013. There are fewer married couple families at 74.1% (74.67%, 2013). There is an increase in the number of Female head-of-family households at 17.5% (17.05%, 2013).
Figure – Number of Families by type (Comparison to 2013?)
Poverty in Washington County
The published poverty rate in Washington County is 12.87% (2016), which is less than the 2013 rate of 13.24%. This rate continues to be below the state (15.47%) and national (15.11%) average for the same period. (The Poverty rate is the composite percentage of the population living in households with income below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)). The NYSCAAA Poverty Profile for 2017 is Appendix A.
UNESCO (United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization) provides the following discussion of the challenges of defining what constitutes “Poverty”:
“Frequently poverty is defined in either relative or absolute terms. Absolute poverty measures poverty in relation to the amount of money necessary to meet basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. The concept of absolute poverty in not concerned with the broader quality of life issues or the overall level of inequality in society, the concept fails to recognize that individuals have important social and cultural needs. Relative Poverty defines poverty in relation to the economic status of other members of the society: People are poor because they fall below prevailing standards of living in a given societal context.”
More simply, Dr. Ruby Payne in Bridges Out of Poverty, Strategies for Professionals and Communities provides the following definition: Poverty is the extent to which an individual does without resources.
You cannot have a realistic discussion of Poverty without acknowledging the inherent limitation of the Federal Poverty level. The current measure of Poverty (FPL) was devised in 1965 and is function of the cost of food – with no consideration to the other costs of living (housing, health care and transportation). The FPL makes little or no adjustments for geographic or demographic considerations (climate, rural/urban). There have been few significant changes to how poverty is measured over the last 50 years.
In 2018 the FPL for a family of 1 is $12,140 annually; The FPL for a family of 4 is $25,100. The FPL or some percentage of the FPL is used to determine eligibility for all publicly funded programs. It is important to remember that 12.87% (7,627 people) of Washington County residents lives at or below these standards.
In 2012 The United Way launched the ALICE Project to provide a framework and language to measure and understand the struggles of a growing number of households in our communities that do not earn enough to afford basic necessities. ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained, Employed) offers a profound look at the challenges of addressing the needs of vulnerable individuals. ALICE households are those households whose income is above the FPL but below an Estimated Household Survival Budget that takes into consideration the bare necessities of living (Housing costs, child care, food, transportation, health care, miscellaneous costs, and taxes). In September of 2018 the second ALICE report was issued for NYS. In this study, of the 24,027 households in Washington County 42% (10,091 households) are living without sufficient resources to meet a minimum standard of living (12% in Poverty and 30% ALICE).
The ALICE Project estimates that a household of 1 in Washington County needs $21,468 to remain stable in their communities versus the FPL of $12,140. For a family of 4 the difference is even starker – the ALICE Project estimates for a 4 person household (2 adults and 2 children) the annual income for stability is $65,328, the FPL for that same family is $25,100. ALICE households are at significant risk of falling into poverty. Income guidelines/eligibility prohibits or limits assistance to ALICE families. The full ALICE profile for Washington County is shown in Appendix B.
Figure – Comparison of FPL to ALICE Stability Budget
As we begin to look at poverty in not only the absolute terms (how much money is available as determined by national measures) and take into consideration the causes and conditions of poverty: access to housing, transportation, educational child care, and health care (resources) the challenges of addressing poverty in Washington County become more apparent. It is important to remember that the competition for resources is not limited to those whose incomes are below the FPL. When you consider that and additional 30% of county households are also struggling, the challenges to the most severely under resourced individuals and households are only compounded.
Children in Poverty
Poverty for Children under the Age of 17 is 18.8% (down from 21.7% in 2013). Within that, of the 1,719 children 5-17 18.9% (1,719) are in poverty. The Poverty rate for Children 0-4 (3073) is 16.8% (555); a significant reduction from the 26.44% (848) in 2013 for the 0-4 demographic. Of children 0-4, little boys are more likely to be in poverty (371/23.1%) than little girls (184/13.19%)
There has been a 4.2% decline in the total number of children under that age of 4 since 2013 (3207). The reduction in children is supported by County Birth statistics, which are down over the same period, and anecdotal school enrollment projections anticipating declining enrollment.
Foster Care Children: Washington County Department of Social Services reported that they had eleven children age 0-5 in foster care this year. We served 9 of these children. The two remaining children were served in special programming due to needs determined on individual education plans that exceeded the scope of services that Head Start provides.
Young Adults 16-24
A vulnerable population that has emerged over the last several years is young adults age 16-24. Information published annually in County Health Rankings, by the University of Wisconsin shows a growing segment of this age demographic is living in poverty. In 2017/18 they identify that 21% of “Disconnected Youth” in our county live in Poverty. The University of Wisconsin defines this demographic as teens and young adults age 16-24 who are neither working nor in school. National
averages are estimated at 12%. As we look at the causes and conditions of poverty, their impact on this age group cannot be ignored and elevates the risk of violent behaviors, addictions and increased emotional deficits. We are beginning to see evidence of the challenges of poverty on this age group with increased reports of contact with law enforcement, drugs and addiction and increased homelessness.
Households/Families in Poverty
12.1% of all households in Washington County live in Poverty, compared to a national average of 14.8%. 8.4% of all Family households live in poverty (1376). Female Head of Household families are the more likely to live in poverty (56.4%) than Male Head of Household families (16.3%).
6.7% of people over 65 live in Poverty (694). This is down from 7.69% in 2013, it is also less than the national average of 9.3%. Woman over 65 (9.16%) are more likely to live in poverty than men in the same group (3.89%).
Washington County has a proud history of military service. 9.64% of the adult population is a veteran, more than the national average (8.01%) and significantly higher than the state (5.11%). 49% of all Veterans are over the age of 65.
Persons with Disabilities
Of the non-institutionalized populations living in Washington County, 8,211 individuals are classified as disabled (13.8 %%). Disabled numbers do not include individuals/children with chronic medical conditions such as Diabetes or food allergies.
Of the disabled populations, 574 are under the age of 18. Washington County Public Health has 99 children enrolled in Early Intervention Services (Birth to 3 years old) and has 163 children with CSPE plan (3-5 years old). EI and CPSE are not contingent on income. Disabled children in poverty are found in small numbers throughout the county- it is estimated regionally that 3.1% of children with disabilities are in poverty – giving us an estimated 16-20 children under the age of 5 with disabilities live in poverty.
Causes and Conditions of Poverty
As discussed, Relative Poverty looks at poverty within the context of the social, economic and environmental constraints of a given area. Bridges out of Poverty holds that poverty is defined by a lack of resources necessary to “Get Ahead”. The Causes and Conditions of Poverty define the barriers and resources available (or lacking) to help combat poverty in an area.
Conditions of Poverty are defined as negative environmental, safety, health and or economic conditions that may reduce investment or growth in neighborhoods or regions where people of low-income live. A condition of Poverty speaks to the state of an individual’s family and community that impact their wellbeing and quality of life. Housing affordability, transportation, and employment opportunities can be considered conditions of poverty.
Causes of Poverty are defined as negative factors that create or foster barriers to self-sufficiency and/or reduce access to resources in neighborhoods or regions where low income people live. A Cause of Poverty speaks to the demographics which, drive the economy and social values/attitude which, drive public policy. Health Status, housing availability, and education can be considered Causes of Poverty.
Certain aspects of any given area can be both a cause and condition of poverty, contributing to a cycle of poverty that hampers effective service delivery and impacts the overall health of the community, not just those living in poverty. Bridges out of Poverty holds that individuals require resources to attain self- sufficiency – each person’s needs are a unique as they are. When the resources within the community are unavailable or limited it becomes very difficult for an individual to break the cycle of poverty because there are no resources to draw on. ALICE numbers demonstrate the importance that consideration of housing cost, childcare and transportation as well as employment opportunities has on stability.
In the following discussions, it is important to remember that the competition for available resources to be stable is not limited to the population of the county living in absolute poverty but all of the 42% who live under the stability threshold outlined in the ALICE project.
A survey of county residents and consumers identified Housing, Transportation and Employment Opportunities to be the largest areas of need in our county. A parallel survey of providers and community organizations identified those same areas as being where the biggest gaps were when attempting to assist people in meeting their needs.
The Median Household income for Washington County is $51,449 – Median household income has been increasing steadily since 2007, up from $44,043, and increase of 15.9%, This is lower than the increase over the same period across New York State (17.4%) but greater than the nations average (13.5%). The per capita income $25,200. The average income per earner is $33,936. An earner is defined as any person over the age of 15 that received any form of income, whether it is wages, salaries, benefits or other types of income, including public assistance. In 2013 the Rockefeller Institute
estimated that 25% of income received was classified as “Transfer Income” (Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, welfare programs and other subsidies)
The median income for men is $36,307, higher than the median income for women ($22,781). This disparity in pay is apparent when looking at the number of female head of households who are living in poverty.
Average weekly wages are $804 (September 2017). Employees in private sector had weekly wages of $748. The average weekly wage in NYS is $1,219.
Minimum wage in Washington County is $10.40 (2018). The minimum wage will increase to $12.50 by 2021. A living wage is defined as the hourly rate that an individual working full time (2080 hours per year) must earn to support themselves and their families. The living wage is estimated to be $10.95 for a single adult, and 13.88 (per earner) for households with 2 adults and 2 children. The ALICE Project estimates a single adult to need $10.73/hour and earners in a 2 adult/2 child household to earn $16.33/hour ($32.66 – total household)
A housing study obtained by Washington County in 2018 provides a comprehensive view of housing needs in Washington County. There are approximately 29,440 housing units in Washington County, of which 59% are owner occupied. This is a higher proportion of owner-occupied units that the surrounding MSA (53%) and the state (47%). 65% of owner-occupied houses in the county are valued below $200,000.
23% of available units are occupied by Renters (6771 units). Median Gross Rent for the county is $819/Month. The median gross rent includes all types of housing regardless of the size (bedrooms/sq. ft.) or type of structure (single family, duplex, and multi-family).
While the precise measure of housing affordability depends a variety of factors, a generally accepted measure of overall affordability within a community is the percentage of a household income devoted to housing costs. HUD defines households who pay more than 30% of their income for housing as “cost burdened”.
An estimated 3,081 rental households (46%) are paying more than 30% of their income towards, rent, qualifying them as rent burdened. 22% of renters are “severely rent burdened” paying more than 50% of their incomes toward gross rent.
Fair Market Rent for a 2 Bedroom apartment is estimated to $924. Absent rental subsidies that rent is unsustainable for families living in poverty or any family whose income is below $33,000/year. In 2018 a single parent making $11.00 per hour would have to work 58 hours per week to afford a FMR apartment without assistance.
Homeless children: We make every effort to serve homeless children. However, the nature of our service area makes it very difficult. For instance, if a family reports to the Department of Social Services for assistance, they are placed out of the service area at motels and hotels. We do our best to serve these children in our Home Visiting program, which does not meet the needs of those parents. These parents need center-based services so they are available to make employment appointments and interviews, or to continue to work to ensure they are able to obtain more stable housing. Although
these parents continue to be residents of Washington County, and are supported by Washington County, their placements are outside the public transportation area, and we do not have the resources to transport these families to the center. In the last program year, we served two families with a total of 4 children.
Washington County is a very rural county, with widely dispersed populations. There is no county wide public transportation. The Greater Glens Falls Transit has a single route through the villages of Fort Edward and Hudson Falls to get to the city of Glens Falls. Liveried transportation (taxis) are the vehicle of choice for Medicaid transportation due to the ability to handle demand scheduling. L.E.A.P., RSVP and the Conkling Center offer transportation for seniors, with priority given for Medical appointments. Community efforts in Granville and Greenwich have successfully developed transportation for seniors to meet local needs.
79.7% of workers have access to at least one vehicle and drive alone to work. 10.2% car pool. More people walked to work (3.2%) than used public transportation (1%). 4.9% of workers work from home – this is down from 5.23% in 2013. 37.6% of workers have a commute that is longer than 30 minutes.
15% of renter households have no access to a vehicle as opposed to Owner households (3.5%). The Towns of White Creek, Whitehall and Granville have as many as 25% of households without access to vehicles (ESRI Business Analyst, 2012-2016 ACS).
Lack of an accessible transportation, public or private which, limits access to employment opportunities, grocery stores and health care is both a cause and a condition of poverty.
Health and Nutrition
County Health Rankings, 2018, published by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin ranks Washington County 27th out of the 62 counties in New York State – this is a significant improvement since 2013 (42).
There is a growing understanding that a person’s health status is not limited to a physical illness but that external stressors like unstable housing, lack of nutrition, stable income and the environment impact the overall health of individuals and the community. These Population Health Indicators show that the overall health of Washington County has improved in the last five years. In large part this improvement is related to improved poverty rates, unemployment and decreased mortality (University of Wisconsin, County Health Rankings and Roadmaps.)
A cause of poor health and overall stability is access to Health Services and Providers. Washington County has no hospital located with the county. Residents access urgent and emergency care in hospitals located in neighboring counties or in the state of Vermont. Primary care is obtained through local Health Centers located in the towns of Whitehall, Fort Edward, Granville and Greenwich. In addition to the lack of facilities within the county there is a lack of locally available health care providers; specifically, physicians, mental health professionals, dentists and other medical specialties.
Affordability of health care is important to health status also. In 2013, 13% of the county was uninsured. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act and New York’s push for universal Health Coverage has seen that number drop to 6% in 2018. 68.2% have private coverage, 40.3% have public coverage (Medicaid/Medicare). 90.3% of employed individuals have health insurance coverage versus 64.4% of unemployed individuals. While health insurance is no guarantee of affordability, insured individuals have better access to care than individuals without insurance. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that in 2016, one in five uninsured adults went without needed medical care due to cost. Uninsured individuals are less likely than those with insurance to receive preventative care and services for major health conditions and chronic diseases.
Nutrition and access to food resources play a large role in an individual health status. Washington County has 4 major grocery stores in the communities of Granville, Hudson Falls, Fort Edward and Greenwich, and several family owned groceries dispersed throughout the county. Over the last 3 years the discount chain “Family Dollar” has opened in several locations around the county – offering access to greater food choices than was previously available. Convenience stores such as Stewarts and Cumberland Farms offer grocery items, usually with a limited selection at a higher cost. A network of Farmers Markets offers access to fresh produce throughout the summer months. Despite what appears to be improved access to food resources, County Health Rankings shows that food insecurity increased to 12% from 9% in 2014.
22,891 households were served in Food Panties in 2018. 57.1% of school age children are eligible for free and reduced lunch, up from 46.9% in 2014. Access to food is a cause of poverty – it cost more to access food -either in the travel costs to get to a grocery store or to shop for groceries in local convenience stores.
Education and Employment
Education and employment opportunities have a significant impact on the economic well-being of a region by themselves. When looked at together they have an even more profound impact on poverty and an individual’s ability to achieve self-sufficiency.
Washington County has a high level of high school graduates, equivalency or higher achievement (83%). The dropout rate for Washington County is 9.28% (higher than the NYS rate of 6.24%) and the HS graduation rate is 79.57% (lower than the state average of 82.14%).
About 50% of Washington County residents have only a High School Diploma; 30% have some college and the remaining 20% have a bachelor’s degree. It is widely believed that as High School students leave to attend college, either following high school or after attending local community Colleges (SUNY Adirondack and Hudson Valley Community College) and that they do not return to live in Washington County due to a lack of jobs available for this level of individual. This “out migration” may be responsible for the high percentage of high school graduates living in the county, which is higher than
New York State and federal figures (40.5%), especially when looked at in the context of lower graduation rates.
Lack of educational achievement is not necessarily a predicator of poverty status. There are very high levels of individuals with post-secondary degrees who are in poverty, especially in the more remote towns of the county when compared to those that border the Warren and Saratoga county lines.
Availability of other child development, child care centers and family child care centers, and publicly and state funded preschools:
Ten out of eleven school districts offer UPK on a lottery system for a minimum total of 412 slots. Hudson Falls has enough UPK slots for every age eligible (4 year old) child, however, for school year 2017-2018, they served a total of 119 children, which is a decrease from previous years. (They have room for 160+ children).
Updated Data for School Year 2018-2019
Fully enrolled at 20
8:30-1:30 5 hours of planned class time
Fully enrolled at 18
2 (1 AM/1 PM)
Under enrolled at 32 (4 slots in PM)
2 (1 AM/1 PM)
Under enrolled at 25 (15 in am 10 in PM)
2 (1 AM/1 PM
Under-enrolled at 38 (1 slot in each group open)
No Pre K
2 (1 AM/1 PM)
Under enrolled at 26
Will take every age eligible
Planned 8 (4 AM/4PM)
(160 total children)
Total served: 119 Decrease from previous year’s count of 134.
1 Full day (1/2 day first day & follows school schedule)
Under enrolled at 3
2 (1 AM/1 PM)
Under enrolled at 28 (2 slots in AM and 6 slots in PM)
2 (1 AM/1 PM)
Under enrolled at 23 (6 slots in AM and 7 slots in PM)
Local school districts are seeing a decrease in four year olds attending UPK. This school year, 8 out of 10 districts were under enrolled as opposed to being fully enrolled in previous years. Overall, school districts are reporting dwindling class sizes, and are discussing possible mergers to save on costs.
Granville School District has several vacant classrooms in their pre-kindergarten to third grade elementary building. They do not see an increasing trend in population and have considered closing this building.
Child Care and other forms of Early Childhood Education
Child Care Centers: There are 8 total centers. Head Start makes up 5 of these 8 centers. There is a total of 378 slots.
Family Child Care: There are 22 providers- for a total of 132 slots.
Group Family Child Care: There are 27 providers- for a total of 324 slots.
The Washington County Department of Social Services reported that 335 total families received subsidies and used many different types of child care. In order to qualify for child care subsidies, a family must be receiving public assistance, or have a family income that is below 200% of the federal poverty level. Subsidies are for families with children aged 12 and under. Washington County provided 219 subsidies for children under the age of 5.
In a survey administered in June of 2018 the most frequently cited reasons for not accessing formal child care (67%) where cost and the lack of availability of weekend and evening hours. The primary resource used was informal supports/ family or neighbors.
Social Services and Supports
L.E.A.P. is the largest non-profit provider of supportive community social services that is physically located in Washington County (43.5%). Together with the Social Services programs provided by County and local services within the county (schools, libraries, food pantries) County residents are meeting their immediate service needs.
In addition to community based social services, there are four nursing homes and two home care agencies located within the county. While there is a comprehensive regional network of service providers within the Glen Falls region, the majority are located in Warren County further limiting accessibility due to transportation issues. Programs and services that take the services to people locally
bear a high cost to operate mobile programs. The physical distance between people in need of support in towns such as Whitehall and Granville and the providers of services in Glens Falls leads there to be a perception of lack of services, when the reality is there are just limitations to access.
The providers that serve Washington County have a strong tradition of partnership and collaboration to address identified needs. Survey results indicate that people access services in multiple locations to meet their needs and have a high level of confidence that they have gotten the services that they looked for. There are currently collaborations around issues in Long Term Care, Housing/Homelessness, Nutrition, and Transportation. L.E.A.P. staff is actively involved in all these coalitions.
The services and supports of L.E.A.P. are a vital part of the social safety net. The challenge is that
L.E.A.P. cannot directly help those people whose incomes are above poverty but under the ALICE stability threshold – We partner with other organizations and providers to assist these people to improve stability and move past ALICE.
In the struggle for resources, individually and as a community, the large percentage of the County population above poverty but under the ALICE stability level is a blanket that absorbs housing, transportation and employment opportunities, making it very difficult for individuals who live in poverty to access the resources to move up the ladder toward stability. While we work to increase opportunities for ALICE we have to maintain quality supports for those in poverty.
Needs and Priorities
A survey of L.E.A.P. consumers was conducted in June of 2018, using Survey Monkey and a format developed by the NYS Community Action Association to collect data consistently across NYS. There were 272 responses received based on surveys provided to approximately 650 individuals who received services through L.E.A.P. Access to the survey was offered to the general public through the agency website. Responses could be provided online (through Survey Monkey), in person and/or by mail. We received responses from residents of every town in the County. Respondents were primarily female (85%) and 63.7% had more than 3 people living in their household.
In 2015 when consumers were asked to define the importance of each of those areas to them personally; they identified access to health care (89.63%), access to grocery stores (89.57%) and employment opportunities (88.89%) as being very important or somewhat important to them. Other areas such as job skills training and affordable housing scored as very important or somewhat important to more than 80% of the respondents. Access to reliable transportation ranked the lowest of importance on a personal level.
In the 2018 survey consumers identified the following priorities:
Transportation – there is limited or no public transportation available in most areas of the county. Established programs focus on medical transportation only. There is no availability of transportation for other purposes including employment.
Housing – a study completed by Washington County in 2018 identified the lack of affordable housing as a primary driver of homelessness in the county. Limited number of income subsidized housing/housing vouchers make finding and staying in affordable housing very difficult. Significant portions of the population spend greater than 30% of income on housing costs (both owners and renters).
A corresponding survey sent to providers and Community Leaders in June of 2018 had 53 responses and supported the same areas of needs as the consumer survey.
Identified Needs and Opportunities
Taking into consideration this feedback, we identified the following areas of primary concern when addressing poverty in Washington County.
- Access to Affordable Housing
- Access to Employment Opportunities
- Access to Transportation
Affordable Housing – Numbers indicate there is clearly a lack of affordable rental properties, specifically for families. Vacancy rates in general housing stock are low enough to support the development and improvement of not just apartment complexes but houses that can be available for purchase and rent. Waiting lists for income-based housing or HUD vouchers demonstrate a huge need in assistance to ensure access to housing.
Access to affordable housing also includes access to building renovation, repair to existing structures and home purchase programs that will allow low and moderate income families to move from rental to ownership. Right now, housing programs are available throughout the county with varied funding and purpose. Countywide programs through agencies such as L.E.A.P., Home Front Development and Rural Development work together to ensure persons in need of renovation and/or repair to existing housing stock have access to assistance.
Substandard housing must be addressed at the town and village level. Landlords can and should be accountable for the rental units that they provide and incentivized to offer quality housing at rates that are affordable for low and moderate income families.
As the population of Washington County ages and senior citizens begin to move out of their homes, more units will be available for purchase. Home values, taxes and repair costs will make home ownership a challenge. Programs to build individual and family resources sufficient to make homeownership realistic are not readily available in Washington County. Education on saving for down payments and assistance with budget goals and bill paying to improve credit worthiness will help individuals and families work toward home ownership.
Employment Opportunities need to be developed that allow for greater employment in the job sectors that provide higher wages and benefits (manufacturing and construction). As noted in those areas Washington County has some infrastructure needs to consider in order to make the county attractive to new companies. Broadband internet access, and reliable road systems that will permit efficient and safe access to state and federal highways, must be developed to compete with surrounding counties and other regions of the state. Local government, Economic Development and Chambers of Commerce are actively working toward those goals.
Employers report an availability of stable, higher paying jobs for which they do not have a pool of employees with the skills to do those jobs. Health care has made significant strides in developing and creating career pathways to assist entry level employees to move upward in skills and the commiserate financial stability.
Public schools and community colleges are working to promote the training and development of career pathways to promote in-demand STEM jobs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
Skills development needs to be targeted to ensure that the jobs that people are trained for are available in the region, at a reasonable distance to allow people to continue to live in Washington County.
Developing skills that force people to move to other counties or regions to obtain employment will only increase the out migration that is driving negative changes in some of our demographics.
Transportation services are broadly available to meet medical needs; especially for senior citizens. Communities are making local efforts to enhance transportation services for vulnerable residents. There is an acute lack of public transportation in the largest percentage of the county. This makes transportation to work or skills training very difficult. The fact that a large percentage of renters do not have access to cars demonstrates that lack of transportation is one of the barriers to improving their financial status through improved job opportunities.
A Case of Compounded Need
Consider for a moment a single mom with a high school diploma. This person has the highest probability of living in poverty. She may live in rural areas of the county with lower rental costs, often isolated or on the outskirts of the community. There is a high probability that she will have little to no access to a car. She is either unable to work or working at a minimum wage job available locally but still living at or below the poverty level.
There are multiple job opportunities in the health care field that will allow her to enter a profession with stable hours, benefits and a supportable starting salary with planned opportunity for professional and financial growth in an established career path. If she does not live in a community with a health care facility within walking distance, she will have to relocate to a community where she may not find affordable housing, since there is not access to public transportation to get her to her employer. She may also have to leave her established social support system (family and friends)
If she is fortunate to have access to a car or reliable transportation, she will need access to child care. She will find that she will have access to positions on shifts for which there is an identified need but with lack of formal childcare (evening, nights and weekends) as well as a cost burden that will eat into whatever increase in pay she may receive in the new position. If she does not have access to a reliable and safe family or social network, she may not be able to safely leave her children to work in this higher level of employment.
There is no one simple way for people to become self-sufficient. Poverty and stability is not a choice that people make but the result of the resources and opportunities that are available to them, and in the community around them. Without access to resources such as affordable housing and transportation a person is not able to take the steps necessary to improve their level of self-sufficiency through improved skills and work growth that will help them move from poverty, to ALICE, to stability.
The solutions for this person do not lie with one agency or program, but through a collective planning and multi-faceted response to each issue. It will be of equal importance that we not lose sight of the fact that while education and/or transportation might not rank as high in importance, we cannot make changes to employment opportunities or health without continuing to support outcomes and changes in those areas as well.
While small, Washington County has many resources and programs that working together can make changes in these issues.
The Role of L.E.A.P. and Community Partnerships
L.E.A.P’s programs and services are a vital part of the Social Safety Net in Washington County. Within each of our programs we work hard to mitigate the causes and conditions of poverty by building supports and services that fill gaps and target problems for our customers. Within the identified area of concerns in this Community Assessment L.E.A.P. has a role or is already addressing some of the issues identified.
Affordable Housing –
- L.E.A.P. was a partner in the 2018 Housing Study completed by Washington County.
- L.E.A.P. makes CSBG funds available to provide emergency payments to assist with rental and or heating payments when other funds are not available to families in danger of being homeless.
- L.E.A.P. participates in the Homeless Coalition and is a member of the Saratoga-North Country Continuum of Care which looks at homelessness and lack of supportive housing for persons with physical and mental disabilities.
Employment Opportunities –
- L.E.A.P. is the designated “American Job Center” under the Workforce Investment and Opportunity System, offering access to job openings, job search skills training. L.E.A.P. offers WIOA services under contract with Saratoga and is part of the Saratoga, Warren and Washington Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Board. L.E.A.P, together with employment programs in all 3 counties, works with employers and educators and other required system partners to access, improve and deliver coordinated and targeted workforce development activities.
- L.E.A.P. provides classes and educational resources to improve job search and interviewing skills to low-income and other unemployed individuals. ROADMAPS is a locally designed program and offers assessment and support to individuals who are seeking public assistance through DSS as a condition of the work requirement for the benefit. The purpose of ROADMAPS is to identify an individual plan to build necessary resources to help clients achieve stability and reduce or eliminate their dependence on public assistance. In 2014, L.E.A.P. opened workshops to the general public on using online job banks and social media to search for jobs, resume development and interviewing skills.
- L.E.A.P. offers year-round supportive services to in-school and out of school youth to help them achieve a TASC (formerly GED) if they have dropped out of school or gain work experience though summer employment opportunities. Working with local governments, non-profits and community groups, youth are able to obtain job skills and work experience that will allow them to move into other jobs in the work force. These paid summer jobs also allow low-income children to have access to their own money.
- L.E.A.P has been the provider of Senior Transportation through funding provided by the County Office for Aging (ADRC). We provide transportation to medical appointments and for shopping as our schedule allows.
- L.E.A.P. participates on a regional roundtable of providers to look at ways to expend the transportation resources in the county.
- Based on identified need for medical transportation for individuals who are eligible for Medicaid L.E.A.P. will launch transportation services under Medicaid. Our primary target population for this service will be for individuals who are enrolled in or receiving Case Managed Services for chronic medical conditions.
Agency Priorities and the Strategic Process
No single program or service is going to fully address poverty in Washington County. A consistent planned response that targets all of the causes and conditions of poverty will, in the end, have the best chance of success.
L.E.A.P. has been working to address the following Strategic Priorities:
- Agency Identification and “Brand” – In 2018 Washington County Economic Opportunity Council, Inc. became L.E.A.P. This was a planned and strategic effort to allow us to put forward an agency who’s visual and narrative supported the Mission and Values of the organization. This direction was in recognition of the limitations that our location in the Washington County Municipal Complex placed on us to promote our agency as a private non-profit that is funded with Federal Grants.
- Staff Recruitment, Retention and Development – Understanding the condition of poverty is fundamental to understanding and working for people who live in poverty. L.E.A.P.’s programs and services all seek to impact the causes and conditions of poverty. To date there is no accepted agency wide paradigm that supports a comprehensive understanding of poverty. Bridges Out of Poverty is an evidenced based training model that cultivates an understanding of the culture of poverty and directs staff to interact with customers/clients not from their own personal view of need or circumstance but with a respect and value that begins with the customers view in mind. L.E.A.P. committed to training up to 2 staff positions to be Bridges Out of Poverty Trainers and began agency wide staff training in January 2016. The long-term goal is to integrate the Bridges culture into all levels of program operations and incorporate the training into our orientation for all staff.
- Programming Structure and Opportunities for Change- As programs and initiatives are put forth L.E.A.P. will be an active participant in identifying skills and competencies required to implement those initiatives effectively. L.E.A.P. does not need to be the provider of all services but will support and work across the county to impact the causes and conditions of poverty. L.E.A.P. will routinely evaluate goals and outcomes for all programs to ensure that they remain appropriate to support community needs. Based on Goals and Outcomes of current programs, when appropriate, L.E.A.P. will allocated existing resources and redirect program operations to areas in which they can have an improved impact on poverty in the county.
- Fund Development – As a private non-profit L.E.A.P. has never made a concerted effort to raise funds outside of the grant funding that we have received. Generous partnerships with Washington County government helped us maintain matching requirements for Head Start, and our other funds were enough to meet our planned services. Changes in state mandates around minimum wage, paid family leave, and other employer obligations have pressured our existing funding, forcing us to examine program services and priorities. Without making a concentrated effort to develop and maintain other forms of financial support – L.E.A.P. will not have the capacity to innovate or maintain existing programs to meet our current needs.
Fund Development is not just cash donations but must also include the development of alternative sources of in-kind and materials donations (supplies). Actively seeking grants that can support and enhance current services with additional financial resources must also be part of a strategic fund development process.
Under the umbrella of these 4 strategic priorities we will focus our efforts first and foremost to maintain operational excellence in our existing programs; Head Start, Emergency Assistance, Nutritional Supports, Transportation and Employment are vital to maintaining the social safety net for individuals and families in poverty. Maintaining the highest level of quality and operational integrity is what makes us a respected and valued provider consistent with our past 50 years. We need to cultivate a comprehensive and integrated case management system to support our current customers to identify achieve their individual pathway to success, using our programs and services, and linking with the programs and services available in other programs.
We will use our existing partnerships and target new partnerships in the areas of highest need, Housing, Employment, and Transportation. To increase the resources available to achieve self-sufficiency we will have to develop resources for those in poverty but focus on resources for those families categorized as ALICE. As long at 30% of the county does not have the resources to move upward, making room for those individuals and families living in poverty – the chances of climbing up an already congested ladder out of poverty are reduced.
To impact and move people out of ALICE we are going to have to:
- Focus on partnerships with other organizations to maximize and coordinate resources.
- Build strategic coalitions to educate and inform the public about ALICE.
- Cultivate Public/Private endeavors to support resources to re-train our current workforce out of service-related employment.
- Educate and support our younger population as to the jobs and careers available locally and facilitate access to training resources through apprenticeships, internships and on-the-job- training.