Center for Working Families helps mom ‘Earn It, Keep It, Grow It’

The Center for Working Families (CWF) program at United Way supported Community Alliance of the Far Eastside (CAFÉ) is one of eight such programs serving Indianapolis residents.

CWF offers an integrated service approach to help households living paycheck-to-paycheck achieve self-sufficiency. A national model developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, CWF provides people the tools they need to increase income, reduce expenses and build wealth for their families.

Through personalized coaching, CWF services focus on establishing long-term relationships, helping residents sustain their efforts to achieve economic advancement and independence. In 2014 UWCI’s board of directors voted to adopt the CWF model as a primary strategy for supporting their goal of increasing income for families living at or near poverty.

A 54-year-old single parent of a young teen, Janelle had been working as a CNA (certified nursing assistant) until she was put on unpaid medical leave in June due to an injury she received in a car accident. The injury left her with lifting and weight restrictions while she went through physical therapy.

By August, she was a month and a half behind in her rent and facing imminent eviction. She was starting to panic. She didn’t qualify for unemployment benefits because technically she was still employed.

Janelle had been searching for other employment on her own, to no avail. Her employment coach at CAFÉ helped her prepare a resume and provided her with several job leads. She consistently returned to the CWF computer lab to check the job board, fill out online applications and submit resumes.

In October, she interviewed and was hired by a local agency that provides supported living services for people with mental and physical disabilities in their homes. Starting at $9.50 an hour for 30 hours a week, the position has growth potential as the company acquires additional contracts.  Janelle has also helped other CAFÉ clients get interviews, resulting in at least one being hired.

Janelle continues to take advantage of services available at CAFÉ. After lengthy negotiations, her landlord agreed to work with her on the past due portion of her rent after CAFÉ paid her October rent. CWF professionals have also helped her obtain health insurance, TANF assistance (food stamps), and arrange payment plans with her two utility providers. After she started working, Janelle met with the CWF financial counselor for help developing a budget and controlling expenses. She plans to stay connected with CWF as she works toward her goal of owning her own home.


Note: United Way brings together compassionate people committed to improving lives in our community. We help Central Indiana residents achieve and maintain self-sufficiency by directing resources toward four key areas of community impact – Education, Income, Health and Basic Needs. Community Alliance of the Far Eastside (CAFÉ) is one of over 90 United Way funded agencies working to address one or more of these priorities. Prior to 2004, CAFE was one of 14 neighborhood centers receiving United Way funds through a now closed umbrella agency. Since then, UWCI has directly invested over $4.6 million in support of their efforts to enhance the quality of life on the far eastside. This funding includes nearly $2.7 million in grants for renovation, expansion and facility maintenance costs using funds that have been donated expressly for capital needs. United Way has also provided a total of $207,070 in recent targeted grants designated for use by CAFÉ’s CWF program. The agency’s current Community Fund allocation is $139,190.