Buncombe County Government’s initiative, Moving to the Middle, is an exciting community model that’s lifting families out of poverty by moving them toward the middle class.
This program was showcased at the annual meeting of the American Public Human Services Association in Washington, DC on June 4. Program presenters from Buncombe County included Angela Pittman and Rob Morrell with the Buncombe County Department of Social Services, Greg Boram with Children First, Carey Gibson of Community Action Opportunities and Reverend Scott Rogers with Asheville-Buncombe Community Christian Ministries.
Buncombe County Human Services is working with community partners to tackle the complex issue of poverty. "Moving to the Middle" is built on a three tiered approach.
- The first tier is underpinned by the work of Buncombe County Human Services as the safety net provider for low-income households and families in crisis.
- The second tier is made of relationships both formal and informal that Buncombe County Human Services maintains to support families to effectively move out of poverty through the strategic use of contracted community support services both private and public in our community.
- The third tier includes partnerships with two programs (Lifeworks Program of Community Action Opportunities and the Circles Program of ABCCM) that work intensively with individuals to move families through nine key components known to contribute to economic success (housing, education above high school, employment, life skills, access to health care, access to nutrition, financial management, emotional and financial support and income).
Recent successes include 105 families that have successfully moved out of poverty. In addition, the Lifeworks Program assessed that in 2011 the social return on investment for their program was $7.26 for every dollar invested.
A part of the process that is very critical has been the work of a local non-profit, Children First, leading a community wide effort called the Success Equation, to facilitate a comprehensive dialog on how to best combat poverty in Buncombe County. All sectors of the community are represented from the business sector, provider agencies, to consumers and others. ABCCM has also taken on another important role of the model by assuming the coordination of the three tiers of Moving to the Middle through an established Guiding Coalition.
To learn more about this program, contact Tim Rhodes at 828-250-5592.