Title II of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 called for four activities, which became the first tenets of community action:
- The mobilization and utilization of public and private resources;
- The provision of services and assistance for improving human performance, motivation and productivity,
- The maximum feasible participation of the intended beneficiaries of these programs;
- The administration and coordination of these programs by a public or private nonprofit agency ("community action organization") which is broadly representative of the community.
Until 1974, the United Planning Organization (UPO), the District of Columbia's designated community action agency, administered Fairfax County's Community Action and Head Start Programs from Washington, D.C. In 1974, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors decided to increase local control over anti-poverty efforts and created the county's own community action agency. The agency contracted with various former United Planning Organization delegates and community action agencies for the provision of services.
At the outset, the new Community Action Agency operated according to the model used by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors; that is, an administering board was empowered to have final authority on fiscal and managerial matters. This arrangement was altered in 1980, when a special task force created by the Board of Supervisors recommended assigning the Community Action Agency's management to the County Executive and replaced the administering board with an advisory body, the Community Action Advisory Board (CAAB). In 1980, the Board of Supervisors created the Department of Community Action and integrated it into the regular budget cycle for County agencies.
On August 13, 1981, the U.S Congress enacted the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1981 (P .L. 97-35), which established the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) as the funding mechanism for community action agencies. On July 22, 1987, the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act was signed into law by President Reagan. It provided an Emergency Community Services Homeless Grant program to CSBG grantees.
Community Action at the national level is responsible for the development and successful delivery of the Head Start Program. Legal Services, the Community Food and Nutrition Program, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP ) and the Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (DOE/WAP) all had their beginnings in Community Action.
In 1996, the County's Human Services Redesign initiative integrated Department of Community Action programs and services into the Department of Family Services, and the mandated Community Action Advisory Board (CAAB) continued its role of oversight of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG). The CAAB broadened its focus to include all low-income residents of Fairfax County and took on a new role to review and develop new policy as it relates to low-income residents and/or reallocation of resources based on staff and CAAB monitoring and evaluation.
During the FY 1997 budget process, the Board of Supervisors adopted a change in the manner in which the County provides funds to community-based agencies and non-profit organizations that provide human services. A pool of funds (The Community Funding Pool) was created by combining Community Service Block Grant Funds and County General Funds and was awarded to community-based agencies on a competitive basis beginning in the FY 1998 budget year. The Community Funding Implementation Team (CFIT), was established by the Board of Supervisors to identify human services needs, to establish priorities for the use of funds and to oversee a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) process.
The Community Development Block Grant funds were added to the Community Funding Pool for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 1999 (FY 2000) under the title of Consolidated Community Funding Pool. It is funded from the following sources:
- Federal and State Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)
- Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)Targeted Public Services and Affordable Housing Funds
- Fairfax County General Fund.
The County Executive has appointed the Consolidated Community Funding Advisory Committee (CCFAC) to oversee all aspects of the merged process and they have assumed the responsibilities formerly undertaken by the Community Funding Pool Implementation Team and the Consolidated Plan Review Committee. The Community Action Advisory Board (CAAB) continues to prioritize the program areas for Consolidated Community Funding Pool awards funded through the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and reviews CSBG funded program performance.
In addition to the formal functions stated above, the CAAB carries out volunteer responsibilities in areas managed by the Director of the Department of Family Services:
- Planning programs and services, economic development projects and self-sufficiencyprojects;
- Maintaining open and effective lines of communication with the Board of Supervisors, county officials, the low-income population, and members of the public and private sector, as well as informing those entities about Community Action and the needs of its clients;
- Serving as advocates for the low-income population in Fairfax County.