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Tribal Outreach

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Tribal Outreach Activities

Defining Outreach

Outreach is the process of making information about LIHEAP available to the public. According to the LIHEAP statute, Assurance 3, such information should be:

"designed to assure that eligible households, especially households with elderly individuals or disabled individuals, or both, and households with high home energy burdens, are made aware of the assistance available" under the program.

In practice, outreach means the various activities tribes engage in to promote and increase program awareness with the attendant goal of increased program enrollment. Outreach may also include activities designed to reach and enroll selected populations, also known as targeting. For example, a LIHEAP office may decide to target or prioritize its outreach efforts, in order to reach and enroll more elderly households, more lower-income households, more public assistance recipients, etc. Outreach may also include helping clients filling out their applications.

Effective outreach means the most needy households, or those the tribe has prioritized such as elderly or disabled, are made aware of the program as well as of other energy-related programs for which they may be eligible e.g., the Weatherization Assistance Program or utility-funded rate assistance. Effective outreach can streamline the application process, as well as the enrollment process.

Neither the LIHEAP statute nor the regulations define outreach or specify which activities are administrative or program. Therefore, when preparing budgets, tribes may decide whether outreach activities are part of their administrative costs or their program costs. As the Division of Energy Assistance stated in LIHEAP-IM-2000-12 (dated 3/15/2000):

"...outreach activities are not intrinsically administrative...The term encompasses activities that are administrative and others that are not."

Outreach Activities

Tribes conduct outreach activities through their own offices, but they are encouraged to work with administrators of other similar programs. In fact, Assurance 4 requires such coordination:

"coordinate its activities under this title with similar and related programs administered by the Federal Government and such State, particularly low-income energy-related programs under subtitle B of title VI (relating to community services block grant program), under the supplemental security income program, under part A of title IV of the Social Security Act, under title XX of the Social Security Act, under the low-income weatherization assistance program under title IV of the Energy Conservation and Production Act, or under any other provision of law which carries out programs which were administered under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 before the date of the enactment of this Act;"

According to the Tribal Manual, many tribes coordinate with the administrators of other programs administered by the tribe, state LIHEAP programs, the Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program, the Community Services Block Grant program, and the SSI program.

Examples of coordination used by tribes include:

  • Meetings between administrators of various tribal programs or state programs to discuss issues of mutual concern;
  • Referrals of clients from other tribal programs or state programs to LIHEAP or from LIHEAP to other programs;
  • Combined outreach efforts;
  • Joint intake procedures; and
  • Sharing records when not prohibited by law.

Most tribes begin outreach long before the program begins so that word gets around about the program before the tribe stops taking applications. Also, it may be necessary to carry out some of the outreach activities more than once or continuously if the tribe wishes to ensure that everyone is aware of LIHEAP.

For some examples of outreach activities by state grantees, see:

Tribal examples:

Outreach and the LIHEAP Plan

In their annual LIHEAP plans, LIHEAP grantees are asked to check their outreach-related activities from a list of seven, and they may add other activities. The activities range from mass mailings to prior LIHEAP recipients to utilizing vendors and other social service offices for distribution of flyers and mailers or utility bill inserts, to providing intake services at home or by phone for the physically infirm.