SANTA PAULA, Calif. – The Ventura County Human Services Agency and Santa Paula’s Blanchard Community Library have launched a pilot program that brings County staff to the library facility during designated evening and weekend hours to provide public assistance services to Santa Clara Valley residents who find it difficult to access Human Services Agency offices during regular County business hours.
From an office at 725 East Main Street in Santa Paula, the Human Services Agency helps eligible community members apply for and maintain their participation in programs such as Medi-Cal (health insurance), CalFresh (food assistance) and CalWORKs (employment services), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
To expand access to these services, since March 29th, the Blanchard Community Library at 119 North 8th Street, in Santa Paula, has been hosting Human Services Agency staff from 5-8 p.m. each Thursday evening, and from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month. Human Services Agency staff stationed at the library are available to assist new applicants as well as clients currently receiving services. The collaboration resulted from the Agency’s participation in the Santa Paula Collective Impact Project, a coalition that includes county, city, education and nonprofit entities.
Barry L. Zimmerman, Human Services Agency Director, stated: “When families are working hard all day but still struggling to put food on the table or pay medical bills, we understand that they want to speak with us in person to ensure that all steps have been completed to get the assistance they need. Many of our services are available online, by phone and by mail 24/7, but face-to-face customer service can really help when critical services are at stake.”
The Human Services Agency’s office in Santa Paula receives over 3,000 visits during an average month, but work, school, child care and other commitments can make it difficult for some clients to access the office during weekdays. When Ned Branch, Blanchard Community Library Director, learned of the access issue, he was certain the two organizations could pilot a solution.
“The library and the county are both guided by ‘no wrong door’ principles,” stated Mr. Branch. “We want our customers to get the information they’re seeking in a comfortable, familiar environment – and perhaps to leave with even more than what they expected. Having additional partner services onsite enhances what we’re able to offer the community.”
Over the next several months, the Human Services Agency will assess the impacts of the cost-neutral pilot on client services, and determine its overall effectiveness.