Lake Area United Way Launches New Initiative

Lake Area United Way (LAUW) has launched a new community impact initiative called the United for Families Network.  The purpose of this new community initiative is to form a coalition of social service agencies, government entities and faith based organizations that deliver services to Lake County ALICE households.  ALICE, a United Way acronym which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, represents the growing number of individuals and families who are working hard, but are unable to afford basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care and transportation.  In most cases, they are ineligible for public assistance because they are, in fact, earning income above the poverty level. These individuals and families are faced with difficult choices daily, often detrimental in the long run.  Put food on the table or gas in the car?  Take a sick child to the doctor or pay the utility  bill?  In Lake County, ALICE represents 1 in 4 households.

Through the work of the United for Families Network, LAUW is focused on attacing the problems facing ALICE households at the root and driving solutions that will make lasting, sustainable change.  The United for Families Network will focus on bringing organizations together to engage and communicate in consistent and continuous productive dialogue, while fostering mutually beneficial collaborations among providers and organizations that will build a stronger system of care and support for ALICE households.

It will create a shared measurement system by linking and tracking the units of service delivered to ALICE households by providers and organizations through the implementation of CharityTracker, a web application for shared case management used to gather and report statistical data for resource development, strategic planning, measuring outcomes, reducing duplication, and coordinating disaster relief response.

LAUW will also create an online searchable database of services and programs avaialble to ALICE households through the development of the Resource Round Up app.  The app will provide ALICE households will a free, easy to use interface to quickly identify local programs and services that can provide immediate assistance such as food, shelter, or clothing.  ALICE households can also utilize the Child Care Locator and search for Paths to Quality certified child care centers, ministry and home based providers within a user specific mile radius of their home or place of employment.

Service delivery gaps can be addressed by assessing and improving the organizational capacity of program providers and faith based organizations delivering services to ALICE households.  A universal client intake and referral process and procedure will be created to reduce system inefficiencies and network collaborations will be leveraged to attract new revenue streams to provide increased support to ALICE households. 

Frank Mrvan, North Township Trustee, is excited to partner with United Way on this initiative and says, "The ability to share information among all social services, faith based and government entities who are aiding our community is ground breaking.  It demands that wea re more efficient, it allows for collaboration and the client is better served.  The big picture benefit is it allows us to capture the data of assistance which in turn puts our community in a better position to receive federal grants to move all our struggling working families into financial stability and perhaps eradicte poverty for food."

Greater Hammond Community Services,Inc. is the host organization selected to implement this initiative under the direction of Lake Area United Way.  For more information, contact:

Kristin Marlow-Kellerman
United for Families Network Coordinator
219-932-4800 ext.109  (Office)
219-973-5142 (Mobile)
kristin@unitedforfamiliesnetwork.org