About Community Action

As a Community Action Agency, the City of Rockford Human Services Department and its divisions, Community Services and Head Start, serve the residents of Winnebago and Boone Counties with the Community Action Network National Goals at the heart of its programming:

  • Goal 1: Individuals and families with low incomes are stable and achieve economic security
  • Goal 2: Communities where people with low incomes live are healthy and offer economic opportunity
  • Goal 3: People with low incomes are engaged and active in building opportunities in communities.

The War on Poverty

When President Lyndon Baines Johnson declared “an unconditional war on poverty” in his 1964 State of the Union address, it marked the first time the country launched an all-out attack to eliminate poverty. The President and his planners saw the need for a comprehensive approach to poverty reduction, not just the provision of a few scattered services. Medicare and Medicaid, the introduction of food stamps, the expansion of social security benefits and the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts accompanied the administration’s flagship program in the war on poverty – the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) – run out of the White House.

With a starting budget of $1 billion, OEO created a large number of new programs, projects and services, many of which still exist today. These initiatives, Head Start, the Job Corps, community health centers, community development corporations, Volunteers in Service to America (Vista), legal services and Community Action Agencies  continue to provide vital assistance to millions of people in need throughout the country.

Read more about Johnson’s War on Poverty (PDF).

The Birth of Community Action

The creation of Community Action Agencies (CAAs) from the War on Poverty was not without growing pains, controversy and cultural, political and programmatic complexities. For information about the Creation Years: 1961 – 1964, Formative Years: 1964 – 1967, Restructuring Phase: 1967 – 1968, Transition Years: 1969 to 1974, Program Management Years: 1974 – 1981, Early Block Grant Years: 1981 – 1993, the Results and Outcomes Years: 1993 – 2014 and beyond.

View the History of Community Action (PDF).

Community Action Today How We Work

At some point in their lives, everyone needs a helping hand.  Community Action, through its 1,000-plus local agencies, both private and public, is a trusted source of support for over 15 million people in more than 6 million families annually.  With a presence in 99% of counties across America, Community Action is able to fill gaps in service that other fail to reach.  For more information on Community Action Agencies today, click here:

View the Community Action How We Work (PDF).

Community Action Code of Ethics

We, as Community Action professionals, dedicate ourselves to eliminating poverty in the midst of plenty in this nation by opening to everyone the opportunity for education and training; the opportunity for work; and the opportunity to live in decency and dignity; and with respect for cultural diversity – read our pledge of commitment to this.

View the Community Action Code of Ethics (PDF).