Selbyville, Frankford libraries to host social workers

Date Published: 
January 5, 2018

People already go to the library to get a leg up on job hunting or social services, so the Delaware Department of Health & Social Services has made that connection official. Social workers will hold weekly office hours at seven locations, including the Selbyville and Frankford public libraries.

Through the program, which started in mid-December, eligible families and individuals can learn about, or apply for, state services in Delaware. That includes SNAP and other food benefits; childcare; Medicaid; long-term nursing care; cash benefits; home energy assistance; addiction help; employment and training; and more.

Dorian Baker, a Sussex County social worker, also helps people navigate the online application process for such services.

“There’s going to be a quiet place. Everything will be confidential. … Whatever takes place there stays there,” said Baker, adding that she wants people to feel comfortable when they chat with her.

Baker said she is proud of her clients’ success stories — especially six individuals who received state benefits, then began volunteering, followed Baker’s job advice and eventually earned paying jobs with State of Delaware.

“Not only did I provide them with those tools,” Baker said, “there was job information. We talked about life itself.”

In the 21st century, libraries have already emerged as community centers and technology hubs. Delaware Libraries and Delaware Health & Social Services partnered to extend the services already available at 15 state service centers.

“We’re giving people more ways to access social services,” said Kelly Kline, director of the Selbyville Public Library. “People often come to us asking about the benefits that DHSS offers, and they have a variety of … problems they ask library staff to assist them with. So they’re already comfortable coming to libraries and asking for these services.”

Thanks to the new program, people won’t need to drive to the Edward W. Pyle State Service Center, which is located among the cornfields of Roxana and nowhere near a regular bus route.

“Library patrons will receive face-to-face contact with a social worker who can help them on the spot and, as needed, connect them to other beneficial services and programs,” said Ray Fitzgerald, director of DHSS’s Division of Social Services. “We hope this will ease the process for those seeking services while freeing library staff to concentrate on patrons’ other needs.”

The schedule for social workers in Delaware libraries is:

• Selbyville Public Library, Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

• Frankford Public Library, Thursdays, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

• Seaford Public Library, Mondays, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

• Dover Public Library, Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to noon

• Route 9 Library, New Castle, Tuesdays, 1 to 4:30 p.m.

• Wilmington Public Library, Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

• North Wilmington Public Library, Fridays, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“Come see us! We’re excited. We’re ready to help people,” Kline said.

Patrons can just walk in, although the libraries could adopt an appointment system for the services in the future.

Details are online at https://lib.de.us/socialworkers. People can also call the Selbyville Public Library at (302) 436-8195 or Frankford Public Library at (302) 732-9351.

“We want to make sure we get the information out,” Baker said. “We’re all eager. We’re all exited. Everybody wants this to work.”