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Mobile hub for family resources to start rolling in the Sault

District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administration Board looking to make services more accessible through mobile hub, bus pass program
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A new mobile hub intended to deliver parenting resources and children’s programming throughout Sault Ste. Marie should be up and running in the coming weeks.

Mike Nadeau, chief administrative officer for District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services Administration Board (DSSMSSAB), says the $100,000 project - funded through EarlyON, which offers drop-in programs for families and children from birth to six-years-old - will be administered through Childcare Algoma.   

“We were looking at the capital costs as we were doing renovations, and it made sense to turn some of our capital money in towards the purchase of the mobile hub,” Nadeau said.  

A handful of areas have been pegged for mobile hub service where services aren’t readily accessible.

“One of our priority areas is the former Rosedale school area,” said Nadeau. “We want to make sure that we’re doing a better investment and investing in children in that neighbourhood.”

“We’re looking at some of the locations in the east end, where there’s high density of children and the services just aren’t there.”

The Every Breakfast Counts campaign - which saw the mayor’s office and social service agencies raise more than $50,000 in June 2018 for local children in need - will also be supplying snacks and other foods for children throughout the summer months.  

Nadeau says the mobile hub is a part of the social services board’s long-term plan to streamline its programs while making those programs more accessible at the same time.  

“We’ve been getting feedback from across the entire community for more accessible programming, and part of the DSSMSSAB’s strategic plan is to increase accessibility across the community,” Nadeau said. “One of the pillars under our plan is to provide accessible and integrated services at locations convenient to the community.”

Social services is also looking at making bus passes more accessible to the roughly 2,500 adults currently receiving assistance from Ontario Works by issuing the money spent on passes directly to the city.

“If we just issue that money directly to the city, the city gives us enough bus passes so that we can distribute them to people on Ontario Works throughout the year,” Nadeau said.

That program - which was rolled out slowly this past February - will cost about $450,000 per year to carry out.

“In order for someone to be eligible for a bus pass historically, they had to have had documented transportation needs to get to an appointment program, a training program, education, etcetera,” said Nadeau. “We were purchasing them [bus passes] from the city one at a time.”

The moves to make services more accessible is part of the DSSMSSAB’s strategic goal for better employment, health and social outcomes for members of the community.

“We’re hoping that it will just open up the opportunity for people to allow them to go to a community event,” Nadeau said. “We know that employment services are scattered throughout the community - hopefully they’ll be able to get to their doctors appointment when historically, that might have been a barrier.”

“So we’re just really hoping that it will really open up a whole different set of opportunities to everybody, and treat the whole community on an equity basis.”

Social services will work with the city and use measurables, such as employment, to gauge the effectiveness of the bus pass program on a quarterly basis to see whether or not it will continue in the future.

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James Hopkin

About the Author: James Hopkin

James Hopkin is a reporter for SooToday based in Sault Ste. Marie
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