Quality Services for Families
MICA's services for families fall into five broad categories: Child Development, Family Development, Health, Housing and Youth Development.
MICA believes every child deserves the chance to succeed. Our child development programs target those elements crucial to a child's success:
- parental involvement
- health and nutrition
- cognitive development
- social skills
- quality child care
- extracurricular activities
MICA weaves all these elements together in its child development approach. Our early childhood programs, Head Start and Early Head Start, utilize age-appropriate learning techniques; conduct health screenings and nutrition education activities; involve parents in the classroom and in program planning; and work with families on building problem-solving and goal-setting skills. Our early childhood staff also work to increase the availability of quality, affordable child care.
MICA broadens elementary and middle school children's opportunities through after-school activities. Offering children and youth a creative, safe and fun alternative, our activities support students' academic studies and give them new experiences. Community projects are also emphasized in the program.
In 1986 MICA pioneered a new method of working with families: Family Development, a long-term, one-on-one model which pairs families with Family Development Specialists. Through regular home visits, sessions held with families in the privacy of their own homes, Specialists and families address the barriers affecting a family's success. Together, they complete assessment tools and develop goals around areas critical to a family's overall well-being, such as employment, substance abuse, education, physical health, and mental health.
Family Development is a powerful model. It empowers families to take control of their lives, to be responsible for their successes and their failures. Family Development equips families with the skills they need for a successful future: strong problem-solving and goal-setting skills; an understanding of the dynamics at play in their lives; and a vision for the future. It also teaches them that they have an intrinsic value as human beings, and that they, too, deserve the opportunity to bring to life the potential buried within them.
The quality of a family's nutrition and health care has a far-reaching impact on its members' development and success. Unfortunately, income, not need, determines the quality of food families eat and the level of health care they receive.
For over 30 years, MICA has worked to helped low-income Iowans put healthy food on their tables and get the quality health care they need. Through direct services to families and collaboration with state officials and health care professionals, we have woven an intricate health safety net for Iowa's low-income families. Our health programs provide:
- food assistance
- prenatal health care
- post-partum care
- health screenings
- basic dental care
- information on health insurance options
- assistance in locating a medical home
- HIV and AIDS support service
- education on nutrition, breastfeeding, and other health topics
In the mid-1970s, MICA began an innovative program called weatherization. Built on the foundation that families' utility costs will decrease if their homes are more energy efficient, weatherization utilized home improvements to increase the energy efficiency of a home. The program was successful, and low-income families saw their energy bills decrease.
In 1989 MICA's Weatherization Technicians adopted a new diagnostic test which used blower doors to affect the pressure within a home. The procedure more accurately pinpointed the rate and source of energy loss in a home, giving technicians better information about which weatherization strategies to employ. By 1992, the innovative techonology MICA helped pioneer was incorporated into weatherization programs throughout Iowa.
Additional housing services include:
MICA believes in the importance of developing a variety of skills in today's youth. As a result of this passion, MICA has been a part of several after-school programs in Marshalltown, Iowa. Teaming with area businesses and schools, MICA has been able to provide civic opportunities to Marshalltown children.
MICA's Service Learners program combines the efforts of MICA, Woodbury Elementary, and local organizations to offer an after-school program to a collection of fourth graders. The program gives this group an opportunity to learn about civic responsibility while teaching them a variety of important skills, including leadership, pro-social, and civic skills.