Community Health and Supportive Services
Our Community Health & Supportive Services Program aids individuals in Lorain who need advocacy and assistance accessing community services due to lack of resources and language barriers.
El Centro’s signature program, the Community Health & Support Services Department acts as the first stop for many monolingual Latino families in need, especially those who are facing barriers in navigating the social services system in Lorain County. This program has established excellent partnerships with many organizations, health providers, human services agencies, school systems, and law firms, among others. While some services are designed to specifically meet the needs of monolingual Latinos in Lorain County, other services such as the monthly food pantry, the mental health navigator line, and first-time home-buyer seminars are not Latino-specific and are utilized by all members of the community.
Our Community Health and Support Services Program provides a variety of services to individuals in Lorain who need support and assistance in accessing community services due to lack of resources and language barriers.
Community Health & Supportive Services helps individuals and families meet their needs for basic human services, special population support, and interpretation with Mercy and Mental Health Addiction and Recovery Services Board of Lorain County. El Centro also provides English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes through a partnership with Lorain County Community College’s Aspire Program and volunteers from Oberlin College.
A sub-department of Community Health & Supportive Service, the El Dorado Senior Program enhances quality of life for Hispanic/Latino senior citizens in Lorain County by providing culturally sensitive support via case management, advocacy, interpretation and transportation. The heart of the program is a weekly senior socialization gathering on Thursdays.
"231Go! supports 5th through 8th graders living in South Lorain and surrounding neighborhoods with wrap-around services both inside and outside of the school environment."
El Centro serves as the backbone agency of the 231GO! Middle School Collaborative powered by United Way of Lorain County, launched in April of 2016. Through the collaborative, El Centro provides and partners with local agencies to deliver programs that increase motivation to learn and create valuable roles in the community for students and their families in South Lorain and surrounding neighborhoods.
"El Centro offers accounting and support services to individuals with severe mental illness to ensure basic needs and prevent homelessness."
The 231Go! Collaborative was formed in response the United Way of Lorain County's transition to the Community Impact Model and specifically to address their target outcome: "Intermediate and middle-school students (5th-8th grade) improve their health knowledge, develop communication and life skills and avoid specific risky behaviors, leading to safer schools and positive social environments that improve both educational and social outcomes.” The purpose of the 231GO! Collaborative is to ensure all students feel valued by their community and are motivated to learn and be engaged in learning.
The steering committee partners of the 231GO! Youth Collaborative are Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority, Lorain County Community College, Lorain County Public Health, Lorain City Schools, and United Way of Greater Lorain County.
"El Centro provides accounting and individual support to secure basic needs and prevent homelessness."
Implemented in 1989, Money Management provides supportive case management and representative payee services to individuals 18 years of age and older living in Lorain County who have disabilities or mental illnesses rendering them unable to manage their personal finances. El Centro provides accounting and individual support to secure basic needs and prevent homelessness, allowing the individual to focus on their treatment plan and recovery goals. Clients are accepted into the Money Management program through a referral from a Mental Health Agency within the MHARS Board’s Network or through the Lorain County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ Murray Ridge Center. Each client represents a unique set of financial, medical, psychiatric, and social needs. The Money Management program serves a diverse group of clients of all ethnicity living all over Lorain County.
Why is this program needed? The risk of homelessness among persons with severe mental illness or severe disabilities is twenty times higher than the general population. According to the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill, at least one third of the homeless population has a mental illness. By ensuring that clients retain housing, the program helps to reduce homelessness which could exacerbate symptoms. Studies have shown that individuals with mental illness who receive representative payee services utilize ninety percent fewer hospitals days. Other benefits to clients include greater cooperation with other treatment providers and lower rates of arrest and incidents of victimization.
Additionally, it is generally more difficult for qualified family members to act as representative payees for adults with mental illness than it is for adults with other types of disabilities, due to disconnection of family members and the stigma surrounding mental illness. When no appropriate representative payee can be found in the client's informal support network, it is crucial for services like the Money Management Program to be available.
According to data from the American Community Survey, 27% of the population of Lorain is living below the poverty level. In South Lorain, 30.4% of the population lives below the poverty line. The community has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the state, concentrated in South Lorain, and the area has lost over 3000 jobs since 2000, with 1,200 of those jobs having been lost in the last several years. But El Centro believes that the flexibility and entrepreneurial spirit of a Community Development Corporation (CDC) has the potential to play a huge role in the transformation of Lorain’s economic and social future.
El Centro started exploring the possibility of creating a CDC in May of 2014 with the completion of a strategic planning process conducted by LCCC’s Public Services Institute. After a feasibility study conducted in the Summer of 2015, El Centro reached out to sister organizations across the Midwest through Unidos US and visited Detroit, Chicago, and Kansas City to learn more about culturally specific CDCs throughout the Midwest. In 2017, El Centro hired a Consultant with the goal of developing a business plan for El Centro’s CDC.
In 2018, El Centro’s Community Development Department was launched, and we focused on expanding our community services developing programs to build community capacity and advance prosperity in the community. To assist the residents of Lorain County, achieve financial stability and long-term success, we created the Financial Literacy and Homebuyer Education Program. These programs are offered in both English and Spanish and address the challenges particular to people with limited financial education and the need for accessible and affordable housing.
"We are excited to begin this next chapter of our organization and serve Lorain County in a new way."
El Centro is certified by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide individual financial counseling and first-time homebuyer education. It is our main goal and priority to work with the residents of Lorain County to become more financially literate, overcome homeownership barriers, and achieve financial security.