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New program puts social workers in some First State libraries

Delaware Public Media

Delaware’s Department of Health and Social Services and the Division of Libraries are teaming up to make some state services more accessible.

A pilot program is bringing state social workers to a handful of libraries across the state on a weekly basis.

Two social workers from Division of Social Services’ Community Partner Support Unit will be available at seven different libraries once a week for three hours.

Division of Social Services director Ray Fitzgerald says many people they serve already look to libraries for resources and are comfortable going there.

“Libraries have computers and other resources – and it’s a warm place.  Some people who are homeless may frequent there.  We know libraries provide services to everybody, but some of the people, low income families we’re attempting to reach frequent the library so we figure that would be a win-win," said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald adds social workers at the libraries will provide the same full range of services they do at the state’s 15 service centers, including completing online applications for benefits and connecting with employment and training resources.

The Division of Social Services’ Community Partner Support Unit is handling the program. Wes Southall heads that unit and says he expects it will grow beyond this initial pilot stage.

“We started off calling it a pilot program because we want to go back in six months or so and say “What’s the impact so far?”  Then, we’ll reevaluate that impact we had and determine what other needs are out there and add to this program and enhance this program," said Southall.

The libraries involved include the Route 9 Library and Innovation Center in New Castle, the Wilmington Public Library, the Seaford Public Library and the Dover Public Library. 

The schedule for social workers in the seven Delaware libraries is below:

  • North Wilmington Public Library - Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
  • Wilmington Public Library on Rodney Square - Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Route 9 Library and Innovation Center in New Castle - Tuesdays from 1 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Dover Public Library- Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon
  • Seaford Public Library - Mondays from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Selbyville Public Library - Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
  • Frankford Public Library - Thursdays from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.
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