Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) and Centers for Working Families (CWFs), leaders in the practice of Integrated Services Delivery, provide employment and career counseling, one-on-one financial coaching and education and low-cost financial products that help build credit, savings and assets. They also connect clients with income supports such as food stamps, utilities assistance and affordable health insurance.
The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a key member of the Working Families Success Network Leadership Group, supports a network of more than 80 FOCs and CWFs across the country, embedded in trusted local community-based organizations (CBOs) and some community colleges known for their history of providing quality services convenient to where people live and seek out services. FOCs and CWFs are career and personal finance service centers that help low- to moderate-income people build smart money habits and focus on their financial bottom line.
LISC’s Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Office oversees the Brighton Center, a Kentucky-based FOC, which embraces the Integrated Services Delivery approach, as described in the case study below.
Brittany, like so many others, was dealing with the effects of the struggling economy when she sought assistance at the Kentucky Career Center. After losing her job and falling behind on bills, she was facing foreclosure and running out of options. At the career center she met an employee from the Center for Employment Training (CET) of the Brighton Center. Brittany eagerly attended an information session at CET, where she learned about the debt- free training, financial counseling, and family and work supports available to her.
Brittany enrolled in CET’s Medical Assisting program feeling unsure of what to expect but very determined to succeed and create a better life for her and her child. From the start, Brittany greeted her classmates with professionalism and a positive attitude. She worked tirelessly at mastering her clinical and patient care skills.
While working towards a new career, Brittany took full advantage of the financial coaching at Brighton Center, attending all the workshops she was offered. She created a budget and spending plan, used Unemployment Bridge Program (UBP) funds to cover her mortgage while attending skill training, and connected with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) services to maximize her tax refund. She also worked with a Family and Work Support Coach to help with food, clothing and basic necessities while enrolled at CET, which included connecting her to People Working Cooperatively to help her make her home more energy efficient to address high gas/electric bills that were hurting her cash flow.
After graduating and receiving her Registered Medical Assistant certification, Brittany began working in a local hospital system earning a livable wage with benefits. She continued to work with her Financial Coach and was able to save her home from foreclosure. Her commitment to financial wellness allowed her to decrease her dependence on credit cards from 33 percent of her monthly expenditures to just 8 percent utilization, her net worth rose over $12,000, and her credit score increased 100 points.
Brittany took advantage of all the bundled services available while working with Brighton Center, and she is now living a brighter future with a new career, financial stability and new hope for her family.