PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Thanks in large part to support from two private foundations, Aroostook County Action Program is working to transform the way it offers services to Aroostook County families.
The agency received funding of nearly $100,000 from the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, as well as crucial assistance from the John T. Gorman Foundation, to help ACAP develop a Two-Gen (or two-generation) model for early childhood education to children, while simultaneously working with parents on their education and employment goals.
The Sewall Foundation supports work in Maine to improve the well-being of people, animals and the environment while fostering relationships that strive for social equity and community resilience. ACAP will net $90,000 over a period of two years to support its Two-Gen Pilot Project, which began in late August. The project works with 15 families currently enrolled in Early Head Start and Head Start at either the Caribou or Presque Isle Early Care and Education facilities.
“The generous support of the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation will allow us to move forward with our efforts to transform our work with Aroostook County families,” said Jason Parent, ACAP executive director and CEO. “We have launched a pilot program this fall with 15 families using the Two-Gen model that has been adopted by several leading Community Action Agencies and a handful of other organizations across the country.
“We are tremendously grateful to the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation and the John T. Gorman Foundation for their partnership,” Parent said. “We have been looking at incorporating the Two-Gen model into our work for several months and are now able to proceed with a pilot project that will provide us with valuable information and insight about how best expand this approach agency-wide to meet the needs of Aroostook County families.”
ACAP has found another supporter in the initiative with the Gorman Foundation, which recently offered funding to provide for key ACAP personnel to travel to visit and learn from other CAP agencies in Strafford County, New Hampshire, and Garrett County, Maryland, that have already fully implemented Two-Gen programs.
The Gorman Foundation advances ideas and opportunities that can improve the lives of disadvantaged people in Maine. Foundation members have kept in close contact with ACAP regarding their Two-Gen Pilot Project and subsequent agency-wide implementation of a Two-Gen model, set to take place in 2018, offering additional assistance in the form of guidance and referrals to resources. ACAP’s Executive Director/CEO Jason Parent is currently one of 12 non-profit leaders in Maine participating in the Gorman Foundation Fellowship.
ACAP’s pilot project offers family coaching to parents (or caregivers) alongside their children and helps to navigate those families towards programs that will help them to succeed in multiple areas simultaneously, from needs assessments to goal setting and outlining and traversing a path to achieve those goals.
Agency staff will monitor the outcomes of the Two-Gen Pilot Program in food security, housing, employment and income, transportation, financial management, education and skills, family development and parent engagement, and childcare. A coach will help families assess where they fall in each of the categories, and that will serve as a benchmark for tracking the family’s success through the program.
In the upcoming year, ACAP will combine information and results gleaned from their pilot project with best practices from other agencies from around the country.