As a result of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the Community Action Program Commission of the Lancaster and Fairfield County Area was established in 1965. It is governed by a 15-member tripartite board of directors representing the low-income sector, local elected officials and the private sector.
This community-based nonprofit organization has a history of successfully advancing programs, services and initiatives that provide meaningful support to people in economic distress. Community Action has continuously worked to efficiently utilize a fluctuating pool of private and public resources to deliver the critical services that can most effectively address the causes and effects of poverty. Initial programs encompassed employment opportunities, youth programming, dental care, food drives, senior assistance, family planning, nutrition programs and children’s programs.
Throughout the 1970s, programs evolved to address changing needs. With the onset of the energy crisis and its consequence of escalating utility bills, we launched energy audits and a housing rehabilitation program. In 1980, we opened a recycling center at 242 West Mulberry Street. A few years later, LFCAA opened the first homeless shelter for families in Fairfield County.
In the wake of the dramatic loss of local manufacturing jobs in the 1990s, Community Action launched a career development network, social services outreach, the Jobs for Ohio’s Graduates program and dislocated worker assistance.
A newly constructed modern recycling center opened in 2006. It provides jobs for people in our community and engages households and businesses in recycling and litter prevention.
In 2012, LFCAA was named region lead for the five county Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing program ensuring households with no other options can maintain their housing. LFCAA also serves as the only provider for Home Weatherization Assistance Program in Fairfield County.
The Early Childhood Programs including Head Start, Early Head Start, Help Me Grow and Teens with Tots have expanded services to serve more children in need in Fairfield County. In 2013, the Head Start and Early Head Start programs received the prestigious 5-year accreditation status. For the Step-Up-To-Quality program our centers have received a 4-star rating. Recently the Teens with Tots program, which serves pregnant and parenting teens that are still in high school, has expanded to provide services in the northern part of Fairfield County where a need was identified.
In 2017, our Early Childhood Programs, in collaboration with Lancaster City Schools has co-located our Head Start Preschool classrooms with the Lancaster City Schools Preschool classrooms, and a nursery classroom from the Robert K. Fox Family Y’s Daycare and Preschool program. This community collaboration is providing an enhanced, more richly resourced preschool experience for many more families and children in our community. We only expect this partnership to grow and include more community preschool opportunities in the future.
In November 2004, the Fairfield County Commissioners awarded us the bid to purchase the campus of the historic Fairfield County Children’s Home – the site of our offices since 1980 - giving us the opportunity to solidify the location’s 150-year history of serving low-income children, individuals, and families. With the purchase of this historic campus, LFCAA has been able to increase services and provide more programs based on the needs of the community. This includes utilizing the on-site barn as additional storage for the food pantry and as the location for the summer farmer’s market program that provides free fresh produce to low-income community members.
During 2012-2015, LFCAA responded to the needs of the homeless population in Fairfield County by completely renovating the former Children’s Home dormitory and Superintendents Residence into 16 apartment units of permanent supportive housing for homeless families and individuals with a disabling condition. Since the 2014 inception of the Rutherford House, we have served 75 individuals, including 38 children, in 29 households.