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ACAP strategic plan calls for addressing shortage of available labor, increasing access to childcare, housing and transportation, and holistic healthcare

A new five-year strategic plan approved last week by Aroostook County Action Program Board of Directors looks to address the most pressing needs identified by the  people of northern Maine in a recent region-wide community assessment.

Those challenges: strengthening employment opportunities and practices; increasing access to  affordable, quality childcare; safe and affordable housing; transportation; and enhancing holistic person-centered healthcare region-wide. 

“The areas we explore in this strategic plan are inextricably intertwined. The challenges must be addressed collectively, and through the collaborative efforts of numerous stakeholders, if we are to ensure the people of our region, especially the most vulnerable low and moderate income individuals and families, can achieve and maintain economic and overall stability and forge a pathway to success,” said ACAP Executive Director/CEO Jason Parent. “The very economic livelihood and future of our region depends on multi-faceted and bold engagement by our agency and other stakeholders.” 

ACAP board members and agency leaders agree that the areas identified through the community assessment, and outlined with measurable and benchmarked outcomes in the strategic plan, are amplified and exacerbated by the unprecedented global, national, state, and  local challenges presented by the pandemic, as well as geopolitical and economic upheaval and uncertainty of our time. They add that these challenges have impacted the ability for employers across the region to maintain and grow their businesses and organizations. For working-age individuals to engage in their communities and the workforce, they must have access to employment opportunities and the education and training necessary to fill them. It is also critical to have in place quality, affordable and accessible childcare, affordable housing, access to transportation, and to the services that lead to overall health and wellbeing.  

Expanding and improving access to many of these resources is also critically important to ensuring the needs of our region’s older residents and individuals living with disabilities, who rely on such services to survive, are met.  

As a national leader among Community Action Agencies that have adopted and embraced the Whole Family Approach for families with children, and the parallel Comprehensive Service  Delivery Model, with which customers are engaged, ACAP leaders feel better positioned to take on these challenges and advance the deliverables detailed in the plan.  

“We partner with the families and individuals we serve, and the collaborating organizations joining in our efforts are ready to mobilize our community and its people. It is through these cross-sector partnerships and shared initiatives that the measurable goals outlined in this strategic plan, and many and varied other benchmarks of success held by individuals, families, organizations and our community, will be attained,” said ACAP Chief Operating Officer Jamie Chandler, who along with ACAP Director of Advancement Sherry Locke and ACAP Board  Member Monica Pettengill Jerkins served as tri-chairs for the Strategic Planning Committee. 

“This work plan, and the concrete measures of success it calls for, are both bold and necessary. It reflects our efforts to meet the cited needs of our community, as noted both in our 2021 Comprehensive Community Assessment, and, equally important, our daily work directly with  the consumers who utilize our services. With numerous partners at the table, our efforts turn  to addressing many of the very real challenges that define our time,” said Locke. 

Plans to address the critical shortage of available and skilled labor, amplified during the  pandemic, and further underscored by a lack of affordable childcare options for parents across the region are addressed in the plan. Equally, the crisis of homelessness and lack of affordable housing across Aroostook County are a focus. Continued efforts to provide additional stability to the families and individuals ACAP serves its Whole Family Approach and Comprehensive Service Delivery Model serve as the underpinning for these efforts. 

Work to improve the health and wellbeing of the community served includes innovative and  evidenced-based prevention initiatives across the lifespan. Additionally, the provision of critical  services that provide for key supports of social determinants of health, especially for the most vulnerable residents, will be at the forefront of the daily work to come.  

According to ACAP leaders, the success toward accomplishing the objectives laid out in the strategic plan will be made possible by the members of the ACAP Team who dedicate their  professional lives to the service of our community, the many volunteers that serve – including  the agency’s volunteer Board of Directors, and numerous partners and stakeholders who work  shoulder to shoulder with ACAP to meet community needs. 

The new ACAP 2022-27 Strategic Plan document can be found online at strategic-plan 2022.2027-final-6.16.22_62b9ab748b50e.pdf (acap-me.org). Printed copies of the plan are also  available by contacting ACAP Executive Assistant Gloria Duncan at gduncan@acap-me.org or by  calling 207-554-4107 to request a copy.

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