Expanding Services in Response to Flint Water Crisis

The FJF/JCS Flint Water Crisis Fund

View as a PDF: FJF JCS Flint Water Crisis Fund Description

In response to the community’s needs as a result of the Flint Water Crisis, Jewish Community Services and Flint Jewish Federation – under the auspices of the Jewish Family and Community Services of Mid-Michigan – will leverage the strengths of both organizations in order to provide expanded services to our constituencies. For the past 10 years, JCS has primarily focused on serving seniors in the community by providing local and regional transportation, as well as specialized meals. Although our services are open to all seniors in Genesee County, our primary audiences are the Jewish and Asian Indian senior communities who have specialized needs, including translation services, and Kosher and vegetarian meals. In addition, JCS has provided limited case management for the seniors we serve, working in cooperation with other partners in the area.

In their respective roles, the FJF will coordinate with funders and oversee fund management. JCS will receive funds from FJF in order to offer the expanded services identified here. The expansion of JCS services come under several categories: Intake/Triage/Referral, Health & Household Assessment, Transportation, and Nutrition. Education and Information are key components of these services in order to empower seniors and household members to continue self-care when practical.

Currently, there are an estimated 35,000 homes affected by the Flint Water Crisis. JCS currently provides direct services to 66 seniors in the affected area. While the focus in the county has been on the impact of lead poisoning on behavioral and cognitive development of young children, we recognize that seniors are also suffering the impact of lead and corrosive water. Many seniors already suffer from chronic illnesses, compromised immune systems, and may not have the support needed at home to properly protect themselves from the impact of the poisoned water. Our goal is to address their needs while making our services open to any seniors who contact us.

Target Audience:

Our services will be initially targeted at Flint area seniors and their household members. Traditionally, we have served seniors from the Jewish, Russian immigrant and Asian Indian communities. Our Fund will initially be targeted at this population but will be expanded and modularized as needed and as funding permits.

Intake, Triage & Referral:

Funding will be used to hire two part-time Social Workers or a Social Worker and RN to provide initial assessment and coordinate response to needs with necessary services. Dissemination of educational information will be an important part of this work.   If funding permits we will also provide supplemental school nursing services.

Transportation & Nutrition:

JCS already excels in providing local and out-county transportation, as well as specialized nutritional services for our seniors. The Fund will be used to expand our capacity for transportation in order to address the special needs and support improved nutritional response. Food, especially fresh produce, that is high in iron, calcium, and vitamin C, for instance, has been identified as being important to mitigating the impact of lead poisoning. However, access to fresh foods and vegetables in the area is limited. Our transportation can be expanded to include trips to Flint Farmer’s Market, provide delivery of fresh foods, and help with additional doctor visits both locally and out-county.  Food care packages will be assembled and delivered to homebound seniors.  Funding permitting, packages of fresh fruits and vegetables will be assembled and delivered to distribution points including churches and schools for distribution.

flint water crisis fun diagram

Onsite Assessments – Senior Health & Household Situation

Funding will be used to employ a Social Work coordinator.  This Social Work coordinator will provide onsite assessment of the personal health, nutrition, and household needs of clients. Assessments will include: Health/Nutrition Assessment, and Household Assessment. The Health/Nutrition Assessment will determine if the senior has been negatively impacted and may require follow-up care, changes in nutrition, blood testing, etc. The Household Assessment will provide coordination of water testing, delivery of potable water, and/or installation of an under-cabinet RO Filtration system. We will coordinate with local skilled trades and suppliers in order to provide for these basic household protection steps. A translator may be needed on site, and appropriate information materials provided in basic English and/or Russian, Spanish or Hindu.

Small Grants:

When deemed necessary after assessment, JCS/FJF will provide small grants to households in need of replacing vital mechanical or plumbing elements, up to $1000, or related small household repairs. Examples include replacing a hot water heater, installing an RO water tank, replacing a kitchen faucet, or installing an extra under cabinet RO system.

Expansion and Contingency

As needs are identified and funding permits these services will be extended to adults who are not seniors.  The use of funds for as yet unforeseen short and mid-term needs will be evaluated by the oversight committee who may exercise their discretion to disburse funds for water crisis response purposes not described above.