Monmouth County Partners with Local Non-Profit Organizations to Launch a New Public-Private Initiative.  Monmouth ACTS will enhance access to County residents’ human service and behavioral health needs. Freeholder Sue Kiley is the liaison to the county's Health and Human Services Division.

MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ: In another great example of Monmouth County caring to meet the needs of it's residents, the County, together with the Human Services Advisory Council and non-profit service organizations across the County, has launched Monmouth ACTS (Assisting Community Through Services), a public-private initiative to promote and enhance access to human services. An official press conference to announce the already evolving Monmouth ACTS was held on June 11, at the Monmouth County Agricultural Building, 4000 Kozloski Road, in Freehold. 

According to Monmouth ACTS, a recent example of Monmouth ACTS in action is when officials at Brookdale Community College encountered students with limited resources that could benefit from County Services. The County was alerted by Brookdale and Monmouth ACTS stepped in.

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Students didn’t know where to turn for housing, food and more. “There was a need for a larger connection,” said Christine Aumack, administrative supervisor of Social Work for Monmouth County Division of Social Services (MCDSS). “We decided to bring our resources directly to the students by having a social worker available to them on campus.”

Now Sylvina Mendex, MCDSS social worker, is present at the Brookdale-Lincroft campus Veteran’s Center each Monday and Thursday. She provides students with information on how to access services such as SNAP, Medicaid, homeless and housing services, utility assistance, domestic violence services/support and much more.

“This is a great example of just one of the ways that working with partners like Brookdale Community College can better address the human needs in our community,” said Freeholder Sue Kiley, liaison to Human Services. “Sylvina has been a great source of help and information to the students at Brookdale, and we are very proud of the program’s success. We continue to explore new ways to collaborate for the betterment of our community.”

Brookdale Community College, which is truly a valuable community resource is firmly on board with the development of Monmouth ACTS. See video below of Brookdale President Dr. David Stout speaking about Brookdale's appreciation of Monmouth ACTS and the partners involved:

VIDEO: of Dr. David Stout, president of Brookdale Community College: 

The formation of Monmouth ACTS comes as a response to the Monmouth County Human Services Needs Assessment that was undertaken in late 2016, which examined the needs of County residents, as well as the strengths, capabilities and interests of service providers and community stakeholders. The assessment report, “A Call to Action,” examined Monmouth County’s human services gaps and determined a roadmap for improvement to desired conditions that would serve County residents more effectively. 

VIDEO: Mary Pat Angelini, the CEO of Preferred Behavioral Health Group and Freeholder Sue Kiley both spoke to the audience about Monmouth County ACTS: 

 

“We found out that many Monmouth County residents struggle to have their basic needs met,” said Monmouth County Freeholder Sue Kiley, liaison to the County’s health and human services division. “Challenges such as addiction, mental health needs, homelessness and food insecurity have become more commonplace, with many people feeling isolated and unable to find the right path for help. Through Monmouth ACTS, community groups are now working together to improve access, achieve social change and address specific problems. Working together, County non-profit organizations, along with the resources of the County, are now offering services in a cooperative way instead of working in isolated silos. This approach is already streamlining processes and access to care and is producing productive outcomes.”

Since “A Call to Action” was presented in 2017, the Monmouth ACTS Steering Committee began examining the needs and challenges of serving particular populations and service areas. 

Subcommittees focusing on eight key issues, or “Hubs,” were formed to share information, examine subject matter, examine policies and recommendations on how to streamline information between numerous entities that cover numerous topics of importance to the residents of Monmouth County. The hubs include: 

· Early Childhood Success

· Positive Youth Development

· Aging

· Homelessness

· Transportation

· Financial Empowerment

· Mental Health & Addictions

· Communications

“It is our ultimate desire to provide residents with easier access to human services and answer their behavioral health questions,” said Kiley. “It can be difficult to determine which way to turn, so it is the goal of Monmouth ACTS to provide residents one access point – www.MonmouthACTS.org – for a myriad of services.”

In addition to the website, Monmouth ACTS will touch the lives of residents through grassroots initiatives via partner organizations. 

About the genesis of Monmouth Acts as explained on their website:

Human Services Needs Assessment: A Call to Action

Since the turn of the century, significant changes have impacted Monmouth County’s demographic profile. Our residents have become more diverse with an increasing immigrant population, and our citizens are aging at a rate greater than the state and country.

While Monmouth  County enjoys a socio-economic status well above most other New Jersey counties, many of our residents still struggle to meet basic needs. In addition, our County is not immune to the pressing challenges facing most American communities, including addiction, mental illness, homelessness, food insecurity, childcare concerns and transportation/infrastructure resources.

The County had not undertaken a fresh, formal look at the current needs of our residents, how they were being met, and how current resources are organized and used to meet these needs since 1998.

In 2016, the County engaged JANUS Solutions to conduct a Human Services Needs Assessment. This undertaking would provide a critically needed look at current strengths, needs, aspirations, service gaps and resources. It would offer a roadmap for improvement to serve all County residents more effectively now and in the future.

The needs assessment drew upon:

  • Extensive data sources
  • Guidance by a steering committee of community stakeholders and public officials
  • More than 1100 residents’ voices recorded through
    • individual interviews
    • focus groups
    • community surveys

What did the assessment find?

  • Increasing immigrant population:
    • 14% of residents are foreign born and 18% speak a language other than English at home
    • Difficulty finding translators for an increasing Haitian population
  • Residents aging at rate greater than state and country
    • 16.1% age 65+
    • 1,287 raising grandchildren
  • 9.3% of residents (or 58,680) have food insecurity, but 23% of eligible children are not enrolled in free lunch program
  • 30% of households earn less than $50,000/year
  • 30% suicides completed under age 18
  • 2nd highest admittance to substance abuse treatment in NJ in 2015
  • Educational levels vary across the county
  • Transportation limited, especially in western side of County
  • Social isolation among many young single mothers and seniors

Key Recommendation

  • Community sharing, education and resource navigation
  • Innovation and collaboration
  • Meet service needs that were previously not being met

The Board of Freeholders accepted these recommendations and created Monmouth ACTS to move the Needs Assessment from report to reality.

For more information, visit www.monmouthacts.org

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