In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty. By August of that year, he signed the Economic Opportunity Act, which created the federal department to oversee the war. The Act called for local groups to organize into Community Action Agencies (CAAs) to implement programs that would attack the root causes of poverty. But more than this, the CAAs were charged with mobilizing the community and changing the way Americans thought about poverty.
By 1965, St. James Parish, armed with its tripartite Community Services Block Grant Board, (consisting of local officials, representatives of the low-income population, and community leaders), joined the fight. Over the next 50 years, the department continued to grow beyond expectations, achieving what some had believed was impossible. Incidentally the non-profit arm, St. James Council on Aging (COA), was absorbed into the department, merging the CSBG and COA boards. While the two organizations share staff and facilities, they retain separate legal identities, fund accounts, and accounting records. They are audited separately by the same independent firm that is selected. Though St. James COA is the nonprofit 501 (c) 3 branch of the partnership, it typically encompasses the agency’s principles, strategies.
In 1980, the CAA was incorporated as a department of St. James Parish Office of the President, hence, Department of Human Resources (DHR). The Department is recognized for its work among its peers, which includes Community Action Agencies, Transit providers, United Way Agencies, Area Agencies on Aging, Louisiana Workforce Development Boards, Housing Counseling Providers, Councils on Aging, and various consortiums.
The recent review of the organizational makeup has revealed that the agency remains in line with the national goals set forth by the Community Service Block Grant National Performance Indicators. The board determined that the current vision, mission, philosophy and values are relative to its antipoverty purpose. On October 3, 2016, the board voted to reinstate “Community Action Agency” to the department’s name. This slight revision reasserts DHR as the anti-poverty agency for the parish and allows the agency to become synonymous with its national anti-poverty agencies.
Since 1965, the agency has been providing a comprehensive continuum of services and opportunities to families of St. James Parish. Many services are designed to accomplish our mission of “empowering individuals and families to self-sufficiency by providing resources and services to improve their quality of life.” DHR is advised by four different boards to ensure these services are carried out effectively.
St. James Area Agency on Aging
St. James Area Agency on Aging advises on matters relating to developing and administering the area plan on aging for St. James Parish and Service area; conduct public hearings; represent the interest of older persons; and reviewing and commenting on all community polices, programs, and actions each affect older persons.
The Advisory Council is composed of (13) members with reflective representation from the communities and population of the parish. Of the 13 members, seven, (7) are to be appointed by the St. James Parish Council. The Board shall consist of but not be limited to representatives of the elderly population, the general public, the private sector and elected public officials. Three members (3) are elected official; two (2) members shall be a representative of civic organizations, governmental agencies, business and religious group and seven members (7) representatives who must reside in the districts which they represent from each parish district to represent the elderly population. One member shall be a representative of other provider agencies which serve the elderly. One member shall be appointed by the Department of Human Resources Director, who will serve as the ex-officio member with a voice in discussion but with no vote.
Call 225-562-2362 for more information.
St. James Emergency Food & Shelter Board
The purpose of the St. James Parish Emergency Food & Shelter Program Local Board is to assists people with economic emergencies (not disaster-related [ i.e., fires of any kind, floods, tornadoes, etc.]. Therefore, EFSP funds are not to be used to provide emergency assistance for circumstances that are the immediate result of a disaster situation. The Board of Directors will advise of program options and services. Communications is ongoing and completed as part of technical assistance and monitoring. Key communication periods are:
Application for funding
Awarding of funds
Requesting second payments
Reporting final expenditures
Requiring and reviewing documentation
The Board consists of no less than 12 and no more than 20 members. The remaining 9 members represent various agencies of the jurisdiction designated by the National Board Program.
Call 225-562-2353 for more information.
St. James Council on Aging & Community Services Block Grant
St. James Council on Aging/CSBG Advisory Board purpose is to collect facts and statistics and make special studies of conditions pertaining to the employment, financial status, recreation, social adjustment, mental and physical health or other conditions affecting the welfare of the aging and low income residents in the parish; to keep abreast of the latest developments in these fields of activity through the state and nation; to interpret its findings to the citizens of the parish and state; to conduct public meetings; to make recommendations for needed improvements and additional resources to promote the welfare of the poverty level people. The Board of Directors is composed of 18 members: (6) elected officials or their representatives; (6), officials or members of the clergy, legal, finance, construction, organizations, and (6) other interested parties (6).
Call 225-562-2308 for more information.
St. James Youth Commission
The purpose of the Youth Commission is to collect facts and statistics and make special studies of conditions pertaining to the employment, financial status, recreation, social adjustment, mental and physical health or other conditions affecting the welfare of the youths in our parish; to keep abreast of the latest developments in these fields of activity through the state and nation; to interpret findings to the citizens of the parish and state; to conduct public meetings; to make recommendations for needed improvements and additional resources to promote the welfare of the youths. The Youth Commission is comprised of nine members, seven will be allotted from each Parish district and two members will be at-large members. Each Councilman will appoint a member from their respective district and the two at-large will be appointed by the Parish President. All members must be a high school student or enrolled in home school in St. James Parish. Each member will be appointed to serve for one year term with option to serve additional terms if recommended for continued membership.
Call 225-562-2338 for more information.