Education & Volunteer Services

Head Start

At a TRI-CAP Head Start enrollment meeting, I had a set of parents make a special request for their daughter to be in the classroom with the same teacher that taught their older daughter. The oldest daughter was in Head Start for two years and made a very dramatic transformation from a very shy, withdrawn child that had difficulty recognizing her name and letters to a very outgoing and energetic child. The parents gave her Head Start teacher credit for making this transformation happen. Our former Head Start student was in the third grade when it was discovered she was reading at a fifth grade reading level. She was also on the honor roll at her elementary school all year this year and loves to go to school to learn new things. Hats off to a much appreciated teacher. She is truly making an impact on these young students and getting great results. Our parents are noticing. Well done!

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A single mother raising two young children, with one child in Head Start, was getting public assistance in many different ways.  One of TRI-CAP’s Head Start Family Advocates set up a family partnership meeting with the mother and kept in touch on a monthly basis.  This single mother started building on herself then, with the support of her Head Start Family Advocate, she started building her own business.  She now runs her own house cleaning business and was able to purchase a home for her family!

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Warrick County Head Start partnered with Operation Kid Sight to perform student vision screenings.  During one of the screenings, in which Head Start staff assists with, Operation Kid Sight made note of a possible vision problem for one of the children.  A letter was sent home to the student’s family notifying them of the findings and suggested the child visit their family eye doctor. After visiting the eye doctor, this family was informed that their child was in need of glasses.  The family was able to get their child the glasses that were needed by the partnership Head Start established with Operation Kid Sight.  The teachers noticed a change in this child’s behavior during circle time, due to the child now being able to see the board.

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We have a teacher that started out as a parent and was on Policy Council for a couple of years. When her two older children got into public school and she had her middle two children attending Head Start, she could somewhat afford for her youngest to go to daycare and that allowed her to get a job, which is when she applied for the Center Aide position with our Head Start program. She got the job and she worked as a Center Aide for several months and then an Assistant Teacher position became available, in which she applied and got that new job.

While she was doing well with her job with us, her house trailer was not working out for the family and falling down around them. Her and her husband buckled down and both worked hard to save up some money. They applied for a new trailer, which neither thought that they would be approved but then they received the call that they had been approved for brand new 2019 modular trailer! The family is in their new, safe home.


One of TRI-CAP’s Head Start Family Advocates was notified that a Head Start family was needing a lot of help and assistance.  This family needed referrals and resources to help with bills from the hospital, energy assistance to help with maintaining utility services, and some mental health referrals and resources for a family member.

Our Head Start Family Advocate set up a meeting with this family and helped them fill out and turn in TRI-CAP’s Energy Assistance Application and a financial application to submit to the hospital for assistance with medical bills.  This family was later approved to receive assistance for both programs.  Health insurance was brought up as a need for this family as well, and with help, they completed an application.

TRI-CAP’s Head Start Family Advocate spoke with the family about getting their son involved in Mentors for Youth program, whom was needing a positive male role model in his life.  They shared with the Head Start Family Advocate that the son would be starting those services soon.


Through the Family Partnership Agreement process with one of the Head Start families, it was mentioned that the family was in need of gas money to be able to start a job. Our Head Start Advocate referred this family to TRI-CAP’s Emergency Services for assistance and the family was able to get help with enough gas to be able to drive to their new job!


One of TRI-CAP’s head start students needed a dental exam to stay in compliance with TRI-CAP’s Head Start program performance standards. The family did not have health insurance and was referred to one of our Healthcare Navigators to help assistance with finding health insurance. This family was also referred to Kelley Family Dentistry and participated in one of their free dental days. The head start student was able to get a dental exam at no cost which meant the child remained in compliance with the program performance standards!


During a home visit with one of our Head Start families we learned that their child’s car seat was expired. One of our staff members referred the family to the Safe Kids Coalition Vanderburgh/Warrick County. After meeting with the Safe Kids Coalition and receiving the needed information, the family was able to quickly get their child a new seat!


A Head Start mother that started a new job was not sure where to begin looking for doctors or dentists. During the family partnership process one of TRI-CAP’s Head Start Family Advocates was able to help her locate physicians within her network. She found a pediatric dentist for her child and a family doctor for both of them. During the same day, while attending the Head Start Healthy Heart Fair, this mother was able to meet staff and talk with representatives from Familia Dental and set up a dentist appointment for herself.


This client success story goes full circle with three of the programs TRI-CAP offers.  It started with a parent having a child enrolled in the Head Start Preschool Program.  The parent had a family development meeting with their Family Advocate.  During that meeting the family advocate referred the parent to the Individual Development Program, (IDA).  The parent had reached out to the IDA Administrator.  They discussed what the program was and how it may benefit her to save for an asset goal purchase.  The parent stated they have rented for several years and always wanted to someday be a homeowner and have a place to call “home”. This program would help her to save for her first home purchase.  She applied for the IDA program and was approved.  She met her savings goal of $1000.00 within two years and was matched $4000.00 with federal and state funds.  She also completed 8 hours of financial literacy training along with a home buyer education course.   During this time we discussed her loan options for buying a home and the USDA 502 Direct Home Loan was what she chose.  It fit her situation the best.  TRI-CAP worked with her on packaging her loan and applying through USDA.  She was approved and is now a proud homeowner.  She was happy to be able to keep her children in the same schools they attended before.  She was a dream client.  Very prompt in gathering documents and always appreciative of those working on her behalf.  She is in a home with an interest rate of 3.125% and is building equity and wealth for her and her children.  This is truly a success story for this person and illustrates how each department within TRI-CAP works together to best meet each of our clients’ needs.


In one of our Head Start classrooms, the children discussed about the importance of sharing with others when they are in need. As a result of this discussion, one of the little girls in the class went through all her toys before Christmas and had her mom donate these toys to their church to be shared with other little boys and girls that are less fortunate. The message was well received and as a result of this, another little girl that was going through a rough time was given this small act of kindness to show her that someone cares and wanted to brighten her life with this selfless act of love and compassion.


Through Head Start, children are able to receive early intervention services that aid them in becoming kindergarten ready.  For two years we had a child with a severe speech delay enrolled in our Head Start Program.  His speech delay was causing him to fall behind in other areas.  After completing a speech evaluation, he became enrolled in Head Start and the Warrick County School Cooperative Preschool.  Throughout the first year he was very quiet and would play alongside other children.  He lacked confidence in himself and would rarely participate in activities.  With each activity he was offered love, support, and encouragement, even if he seemed uninterested.  By the second year he had become “Mr. Popularity”.  He grown to be confident in himself and joined in with group activities.  He learned how to play with others and how to use his words to interact with friends.  Each day he gained more and more knowledge and was getting excited for Kindergarten.  When he completed his Lollipop test for Kindergarten his mom came in and shared the exciting news.  He had completed the test with the teacher and only missed two questions.  He also recognized every letter and numbers up to twenty.  His speech greatly improved and he spoke in complete sentences.  After two great years we were sad to see him go, but thrilled to know that he was ready to conquer whatever came his way.


A Head Start teacher noticed that a few children were not wearing winter coats as the weather grew colder. Since they spend time outside every day, she asked the parents to please send the children in their winter coats. One parent told the teacher that last year’s coat was too small for her child and that she could not afford a new winter coat. The teacher immediately sent an email asking for resources to help this mother get a coat for her child.

The teacher wrote, “little did I know at the time that my email would be forwarded to several people in different TRI-CAP offices. Within a few days, not only did the child in my class get a new coat, but several children from the other classes also received new coats.”
With a teacher’s quick action to help one family’s need and the collective reaction of the TRI-CAP community, several families’ needs were met through an overwhelming response of caring and generosity!

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This success story is told by a Head Start teacher that taught at TRI-CAP for over 30 years:

Very early in my Head Start career, I had a young boy who was hearing impaired. I recall him doing well in class. I invited this young man, my former student, to bring his ice truck to our classroom and show the children what he does. This former student of mine accepted the invitation and taught the children about his own small business. It was fun and rewarding to have a former student give back to Head Start by volunteering and taking time out of his busy schedule to teach our students. He actually donated some ice for the water table which made his visit also turn into a science lesson.


This success story is told by one of TRI-CAP’s Head Start parents:

TRI-CAP has helped my family a lot in many different ways. The Head Start Program has helped my twin boys very much. Before the twins started Head Start, they had been in the First Steps Program for their speech. When the twins started Head Start, they couldn’t spell their names, they didn’t know any letters of their name, any letters of the alphabet, or any numbers. They only knew a few shapes and a few colors. They can now spell their first and last names! They know the alphabet, colors, numbers, and shapes! Head Start has really gone over and beyond to help them get ready for kindergarten. And since they have started Head Start, they have become social butterflies!


A Head Start student participated in Operation Kids Sight, which is a vision-screening program and during that process it was discovered the student may need glasses.  After taking the student to the eye doctor, it was confirmed the child needed glasses.  The mother approached her Family Advocate and was very concerned because even with the discounts that the eye doctor was going to give them, she would not be able to come up with the money to purchase glasses for her child.  The Family Advocate contacted the Lion’s Club.  Between the Lion’s Club and Operation Kids Sight, they were able to help this family financially afford glasses.  The child now has the needed glasses and looks quite cute in them!


This success story is written by one of TRI-CAP’s Head Start parents:

My family loves Head Start! Two of my children have been able to attend, and I have enjoyed getting to know the teachers and other staff involved. The staff has been great at providing support to my children, and me. Sometimes, my daughter has a difficult time at drop off and the teachers always make sure that one of them comes to greet and comfort her if needed. I feel like the TRI-CAP Head Start staff really cares about me, and my family.

One day I had a routine meeting with my TRI-CAP Head Start Family Advocate, and we started talking about a project I was working on—writing and illustrating a children’s book. I showed her some pictures of my work and told her how I was thinking about potentially publishing it, if I could figure it out. My Family Advocate listened and gave me some positive encouragement. It was great to hear supportive feedback from someone outside my immediate family and friends.

Many times throughout this process, I questioned my own credibility and abilities. I did a lot of research about publishing, made several edits, and reformatted drafts. I sought advice and feedback from a variety of audiences: parents, children, teachers, librarians, and other authors. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun!

After several months of working hard, receiving feedback, and continuous encouragement from many people, including the TRI-CAP Head Start staff, I am excited to say that my book, “Joey the Jellyfish Becomes a Hero!” is officially published, available locally and on Amazon! It’s great to be part of a network of people who offer support to me, and my children, and provide positive encouragement to set goals, and do the work necessary to reach those goals.

You can purchase the book, “Joey the Jellyfish Becomes a Hero!” on amazon.com written by one of TRI-CAP’s very own Head Start parents!  Click this link:  https://www.amazon.com/JoeyJellyfishBecomesAleeshaLopez/dp/1083057286/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Joey+the+Jellyfish+Becomes+a+Hero%21&qid=1576508530&sr=8-1

Healthy Families

One of TRI-CAP’s Healthy Families Support Specialist met with a prenatal client who was experiencing housing and financial stress.  Thankfully the Support Specialist was able to connect the family to several referrals to help with preparing for the arrival of their new baby.  The baby now has a safer and more secure environment with continued services from TRI-CAP Healthy Families.

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A Healthy Families Support Specialist met with a client whose infant scored low on a gross motor development exam.  Their Support Specialist was able to refer the family to First Steps and now their baby is getting the physical therapy and support she needs to assist with her development.

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One Healthy Families Support Specialist was recently able to persuade a previously reluctant family to enroll their two children in preschool.  The family’s Support Specialist has been working diligently on preschool readiness with the two siblings for a while, but found that the parent was understandably emotional about allowing the children to move on in this next stage of their lives.  After pointing out the benefits of preschool, and how ready and excited the two children are to learn new skills and make friends outside of their home, this Healthy Families client-parent has since enrolled her children in preschool.  The entire household is now seeing the benefits of having the children socialized, educated, and gaining needed independence skills; a win-win for everyone!

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A Healthy Families client was diligently seeking citizenship.  The client’s Healthy Families Support Specialist provided support, resources, and encouragement for this family to meet their goal.  This client was able to recently report that they have now successfully achieved US citizenship!

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Healthy Families met with a client who was experiencing a housing weatherization emergency.  One of TRI-CAP’s Family Support Specialists was able to provide referrals and resources to help the family take the necessary steps to prepare their home for the winter months.

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A family that participated in TRI-CAP’s Healthy Families program had a baby that was born with a cleft palate.  This family planned for their baby to have corrective surgery for months.  The family’s Healthy Families Support Specialist was able find resources available to help them through the baby’s hospitalization and to work with getting the baby ready for surgery.  This family had a goal for their baby to learn to walk before surgery to avoid any set-backs.  With help from the support specialist, the baby was walking before the surgery which will help in the post-surgery recovery.  This baby had a successful surgery and is right on track developmentally, thanks in large part to TRI-CAP’s Healthy Families Program!

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Comments from a Healthy Families client:

“My Home visitor was great! Being a first time mom, I really needed the support. I needed someone to tell me that I was doing okay or when I needed to try something different. I could talk to my support specialist about things when no one else in my life had time to listen. My life has changed for the better with the help of you!”

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A single-parent Healthy Families client was struggling to care for her prematurely born infant in the NICU while also caring and providing for her other child back at home. Mom was finding it necessary to routinely skip meals for herself in order to provide for her children while she was off work and struggling financially. This family’s Support Specialist knew how important it was for Mom to be able to ensure her own nutrition and self-care needs so that she can care for her NICU baby and for her child at home. TRI-CAP’s Healthy Families Support Specialist was able to connect with the support services at the hospital’s NICU to ensure that the mother could get a meal ticket every day while her baby was in the hospital. Thanks to this Healthy Families Support Specialist the mother did not have to worry about skipping meals in order to provide for her children.

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With help and empowerment from a Healthy Families Home Visitor a young mother was able to return to school after a long break to give birth to her baby. The mother had worries about how she would fit in and how she was going to get everything done. Mom is now in a good routine and working daily to continue her education so that her baby has a better life.

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One Healthy Families participant has been enrolled in the Healthy Families Program for several years. This parent and baby have been diligent with their involvement and participation. With help and referrals from the Healthy Families Support Specialist, the parent was able to flee an abusive relationship. Steps were taken to protect the family such as reaching out to local law enforcement and having friends to call if in need of emergency support or when threatened with danger. The Healthy Families Support Specialist was able to provide referrals to assist the family in finding affordable and safe housing. This Family Support Specialist also helped see to the counseling and recovery needs of the family as they transitioned from an abusive situation to a successful life on their own.

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The father of a family that participated in TRI-CAP’s Healthy Families Program was diagnosed with cancer and required almost constant treatment. With the help from the Healthy Families staff, the mother was able to stay positive throughout the process and was able to connect with several resources to help the family through a very difficult time. The father was declared cancer free and the family worked hard to get their lives back on track. This family showed great strength and perseverance through this health crisis and learned many ways to help continue on the road to self-sufficiency! Healthy Families is a home-based program serving families with children ages zero to three years old.   Through one-on-one support and referrals made by TRI-CAP Healthy Families home visiting staff, this family was positively impacted.

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One Healthy Families client had many fears and misinformation about allowing her child to receive medical check-ups and immunizations. Our TRI-CAP’s Healthy Families Service Specialist was able to provide this parent with medical provider referrals, information on the importance of regular well-baby check-ups, and immunizations. This gave the parent information she needed and she was able to choose a medical provider for her child and schedule an appointment for immunizations and a check-up.

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With encouragement and support from one of TRI-CAP’s Family Support Specialists, a Healthy Families client recently enrolled in college classes and is working toward positive career changes to better provide for their family.

Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)

The Backpack Buddy program under Dubois County Community Meal (DCCM) kicked off the first week of September 2019.  Seven TRI-CAP Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) volunteers are on the packing team with four volunteers to fill in when needed.  To date, 600 bags have been packed for a 2-week time period.  Elementary schools in all four school districts in Dubois County are being served.  The DCCM program is 100% volunteer and relies on donations to feed the hungry.

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For the 6th year, TRI-CAP RSVP volunteers have worked with the planning committee of Young Women LEAD to help complete the preparations for hosting over 500 young teen women from surrounding counties on March 14, 2019. Young Women LEAD is an all-day leadership conference for high school girls focusing on Leadership, Education and Development. The purpose of the conference is to empower high school girls to embrace their strengths and to reach their full potential. Twelve RSVP volunteers each gave an average of two hours of service. The volunteers stuffed goodie bags, untangled lanyards, collated papers, put name tags and program information together.


Through generous community donations, TRI-CAP’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program purchased 10 companion cats and distributed them to the following places: Caring Hands Unit of Memorial Hospital, Scenic Hills, The Waters, Brookside, Northwood Good Samaritan, The Timbers, Cathedral, St. Charles long term care facilities in Dubois County, and Golden Living and Amber Manor located in Pike County. The lifelike and realistic battery-operated therapy cats help older adults with high blood pressure, memory and dementia issues.


Actors Community Theatre (ACT)    have utilized TRI-CAP Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) volunteers for “Front of The House Duties” of their summer musicals for 18 years. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement for the two organizations. ACT can supplement their list of community volunteers and RSVP volunteers receive a complimentary ticket to the show for their service and the RSVP program gets to count the price of the ticket as an in-kind documentation. A win-win-win!

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The Dubois County Medication Collection kicked off its 17th year of fall and spring collections on Saturday, October 26, 2019. Four hundred two pounds of expired, unused and unwanted pharmaceuticals were collected at the Birdseye and Ireland Fire Stations and Jasper State Police Post. To date, 5.85 tons of medications have been disposed of in this environmental stewardship and substance abuse project. The core committee members are: Dubois County Sheriff Department, Dubois County Solid Waste Management District, County Fire Departments, Dubois County Substance Abuse Council, Dubois County CARES, Indiana State Police, Drug Enforcement Agency, and TRI-CAP Retired Senior and Volunteer Program.


731.4 pounds of pharmaceuticals were collected at the April 27, 2019 Dubois County Medication Collection! With the help of the Jasper Police Department, a new record was set! Thanks to all the participating volunteers and sponsors including the DEA, Indiana State Police, Dubois County Sheriff’s Department, Dubois County Solid Waste Management, Dubois County Substance Abuse Council, Dubois County CARES, Ferdinand and Schnellville Fire Stations, and TRI-CAP Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) volunteers. Thank you for your great efforts in this successful county-wide substance abuse and environmental stewardship project!

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TRI-CAP RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) has spearheaded the Pie Brigade of the Thanksgiving Day Feast in Dubois County for many years.  2018 was a record-setter for the feast.  1,833 people, the largest number of participants yet, enjoyed a Thanksgiving Day meal.  883 meals were delivered, 485 meals were carried out, and 465 people dined in.  The Pie Brigade garnered over 300 pies from our very giving public!

Jasper Fire Department installed 90 smoke alarms while the RSVP Director manned the hotline for people calling in for smoke alarm installation and passed the information along to the fire department.  Over 50 homes have received new smoke alarms.

100 people on 2 buses traveled to Maine on a 9 day trip in June. They experienced Chamber of Commerce weather and all seemed to enjoy this adventure greatly! TRI-CAP continues to offer a reasonably priced avenue of traveling for a multi-county area that also provides a sustaining stream of revenue. The bus trips have been a successful endeavor on many levels.


A tornado touched down in Ireland, IN on February 28, 2017. Dubois County EMA was in need of volunteers to oversee debris dumpster sites. Our RSVP Director was contacted on 3/2 and was able to find volunteers to cover a site in Ireland on Friday evening and Sunday. She was asked to join in on the Hot Wash discussion of “what worked and what didn’t work.” The Dubois County organizations that were involved gave praise and thanks for the services of senior volunteers of TRI-CAP RSVP.

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Comments from a couple that have been on TRI-CAP’s Retired Senior & Volunteer Program sponsored bus trips:

“This is the best thing that has happened in our area in a long time.”

This couple is signed up for the Albuquerque trip in October and they also want to visit San Antonio in February and Colorado in June of 2016.  She told me that they did not have an opportunity to travel when they were young, and she is just so excited to be in good enough health to do it now in their 70’s.

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Within a couple of days in August, TRI-CAP’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) lost 2 active volunteers.  That certainly happens with a 55 years of age and older program, but these two people were my friends, not just volunteers.  More than that, our community lost two people who cared enough to give back in their retirement years through a variety of volunteer services.  So it goes with the many, many senior volunteers who I have had the pleasure to meet and work with in my time at TRI-CAP.  The senior volunteers of TRI-CAP RSVP are people of character and pillars of trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.  Character counts.  That is success! ~By TRI-CAP’s Former RSVP Program Director, Becky Beckman

See What Services are in Your County

How to reach TRI-CAP during Indiana’s Executive Order #20-08

Our TRI-CAP staff members have been working diligently to continue serving our clients and have found alternative ways to serve our clients without being physically face-to-face through this COVID-19 pandemic and have restricted access to our facilities to anyone other than staff.  We have been in constant communications with our clients thus far and continue to provide the individual care that each person needs. 

In compliance with Indiana’s Stay at Home Executive Order #20-08, our staff will no longer be on site through the duration of the statewide Executive Order. 

Our phones will continue to be answered through 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, 2020. 

  • Dubois County office:                 812-482-2233
  • Pike County office:                      812-354-8721
  • Warrick County office:                812-897-0364
  • Vanderburgh County office:       812-428-2189

Beginning, Wednesday, March 25, 2020 our phone lines will only be able to receive messages that will be checked daily.  If you prefer to reach us via email, you may contact our Director Team for these services and they will refer your inquiry to the applicable staff member to assist you.

  • Neil Elkins, TRI-CAP Housing Services Director, neil@tri-cap.net (Utility, Weatherization, and Housing programs, etc.)
  • Deb Capps, TRI-CAP Health Services Director, deb@tri-cap.net  (Healthcare navigation, Family Planning, and Breast Cancer services.)
  • Nikki Lasher, Family and Community Partnerships Director, nikki@tri-cap.net (Healthy Families, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.)
  • Molly Wuchner, Head Start Director, molly@tri-cap.net (Head Start program)
  • Joyce Fleck, Executive Director, joyce@tri-cap.net for any other administrative inquiries

TRI-CAP’s health, housing, and education services change lives, empower families, and improve communities.