The Tri-County Community Action Agency, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, private corporation, has been providing a broad range of social, support, and advocacy services since its inception in 1965, under the Johnson Administration’s “War on Poverty”. According to its original Articles of Incorporation, the Agency was established as one of 1100 Community Action Agency’s which was designated by the Federal Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to provide comprehensive social services to the low-income, elderly, and disadvantaged populations residing in the towns of North Providence, Johnston, and Smithfield. The geographic boundaries of the Agency’s service area were expanded in 1968 to include all of northwestern Rhode Island incorporating the towns of Burrillville, Glocester, Scituate and North Smithfield into its already existing service area. In 2016, Tri-County Community Action Agency merged with the South County Community Action Agency (forming one Agency taking the name of the Tri-County Community Action Agency) and expanded its service area to include Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, Narragansett, New Shoreham, North Kingstown, Richmond, South Kingstown, Westerly and West Greenwich.
As a Community Action Agency, Tri-County provides a very unique, diverse and comprehensive array of services to the targeted population, serving tens of thousands of unduplicated patients/clients annually, with a multi-million dollar annual budget. The programs administered and operated by Tri-County provides for integration of services across the organization; and coordination of care and continuity of services for all patients and clients. This provides for a more holistic approach in assisting all clients/patients in addressing all of their needs in a more comprehensive and coordinated manner, thereby decreasing or eliminating barriers to their health, education, and social service needs and assisting them in transitioning out of poverty and into social and economic self-sufficiency. The Tri-County mission statement reads: “To provide accessible, quality and comprehensive social, educational, health, prevention, and other services to people in need, while empowering them to achieve the highest level of self-sufficiency and quality of life.”
It is important to note that every health center patient/client is assessed for all of their needs (in addition to health, behavioral health and dental), and if indicated, they are referred to ancillary services and programs within the agency through a formal inter-agency referral process. Services that are available to patients within the same facility as the Health Center include, but are not limited to: WIC; Nutrition Education and Counseling; Adolescent Pregnant and Parenting Program; GED/ESL; Adult Basic Education; Early and Basic Head Start; Child Care; Model Youth Prevention Programs; Youth Opportunity Center; Youth Responsibility; Family Care Community Partnership services; Employment and Training Programs; Youth Diversionary Program; Substance Abuse Prevention Coalitions; Drug-Free Communities; Parenting Wisely; Parents as Teachers; The Incredible Years; Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (Stanford University Model); RI Pharmaceutical Assistance Program; Reach Out and Read; Senior and Disabled Adult Home and Community-Based Case Management (includes Case Management for Home-Bound; Community and Home Care; Abuse/Neglect; Personal Choice Waiver; HAB Waiver, etc); Senior Health Information Program (SHIP); Senior Medical Patrol; Housing Assistance; Furniture Bank; Victims of Crime for Seniors; Intake and Referral; Food Stamp Intake; Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP); Weatherization Assistance Program; Emergency Boiler Repair; Appliance Management Program; Food Bank; Emergency Housing Assistance; Information and Referral and a broad range of other services/programs which support the self-sufficiency goals of program participants.
In 1972, Tri-County was awarded funds through the Rhode Island State Legislature to establish a Community Health Center (CHC) designed to serve the low-income and medically unserved population residing in the CAP service area. The Tri-County Health Center was designated as a Medically Underserved Population (MUP) in 1994. As a result, the Health Center achieved federal “look alike” status and was therefore eligible to receive cost-based reimbursement for Medicaid patients. Tri-County has an MUP (Medically Underserved Population) and meets all federal guidelines and requirements, which were based on an Index of Medical Under-Service (IMU), which considers four factors: 1) the percent of the population below the federal poverty level; 2) the percent of the population age 65 and above; 3) the infant mortality rate and; 4) the ratio of private care providers to the population. Tri-County was successful in obtaining an MUP designation by presenting a strong rationale which clearly documented local barriers to primary care access. This document was signed and approved by the Governor of the State of Rhode Island, which was submitted with the Agency’s FQHC “Look-Alike” Application, to the Bureau of Primary Care, in 1993.