Community Development Block Grants Impacting Giraffe Laugh

If your neighborhood is in need of some TLC, the City of Boise hands out $4 to $5 million a year to supportive services for low-income communities.

They’re called community development block grants, a combination of federal and local moneys. The city of Boise uses the funds to relieve its homeless and affordable housing needs.

Giraffe Laugh Early Learning Center is a partner of community development block grants. It’s funded in part by the grant, receiving $25,000 in 2015.

Jen Hamblin has been a single mother to her five-year-old son, Asher. She’s enrolled him in Giraffe Laugh so she can work and go to school to become a teacher.

“He just gets to do all that stuff that I sometimes wouldn’t have time or money for,” said Hamblin.

Hamblin is living off student loans, and child care typically isn’t cheap.

Giraffe Laugh eases that burden by providing scholarships based on family income.

“They never turn you away for lack of ability to pay for it,” she said.

Lori Fascilla, executive director of Giraffe Laugh Early Learning Center, says it helps uplift families out of poverty.

“It enables them to get housing and jobs and really get on their feet and then they would move to the next level and begin paying a little bit. We believe in educational justice. We want low income families to have access to the same quality that everyone else does,” Fascilla said.

As families become more independent, they’re able to contribute more to tuition.

“It’s really exciting to see families move through those stages of self-sufficiency because they got a hand up when they needed it,” Fascilla said.

Right now there are over 500 families on Giraffe Laugh’s waiting list who are in need of a hand-up, so like Jen and Asher, they can have a brighter future.

“Really it’s just giving me the opportunity to do what I want to do that’s going to be best for Asher and I,” said Hamblin.

Terry Reilly Health Services is another partner with community development block grants.

The medical center received over $82,000 in 2015. Those funds help match the cost to healthcare with the income and resources a family has.

“We do it on a sliding fee scale, so we figure out how much they can contribute as well to the cost of healthcare, and then the funds allow us to make up the difference so we can make sure they get good quality healthcare,” said Heidi Traylor, executive officer of Terry Reilly Health Services.

2016’s action plan was approved in July and is set to begin in October.

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