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Montco announces more user friendly delivery of human services

Friday, October 26, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Amy Seasholtz
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 Friday, October 26, 2012 | By Margaret Gibbons, Staff writer

Montgomery County residents needing human services soon will have a friend in county government.

That friend will be known as a "navicate,” the term first used publicly Thursday by Commissioner Chairman Josh Shapiro to describe a county employee who will serve both as a navigator and advocate for a county resident in need of help.

The new navicate system, which should be up and running early next year, is designed to make the delivery of human services more constituent friendly, efficient and seamless, said Shapiro.

Russell Johnson and Tamela Luce from the North Penn Community Health Foundation lead a community conversation about the "new normal"

"Too many times constituents are constricted by a system that has institutionalized a stovepipe approach to the delivery of services,” said Shapiro. "This causes the person in need to have to complicate their situation with making multiple calls or visits to county offices, most of which are in Norristown, where they are on their own to find a parking space and the office they are seeking.”

This new system will shift the delivery of human services from a discipline focused system to a constituent focused system, said Shapiro.

For example, an unemployed resident might seek help from the county to find affordable housing and end up getting help finding county services for an elderly parent or a child with physical or mental health disabilities for whom the resident is caring.

The navicate would discuss the constituent's immediate need and also determine what, if any, government or community services might be available to meet the other needs. The navicate then would serve as the constituent's advocate, helping with phone calls to the various agencies, securing the necessary paperwork and ensuring that the constituent gets all the services for which he or she might qualify.

"This takes the onus off the individual to figure out who to call and where to seek help,” said Shapiro.

Just as important, the navicates will work out of facilities in various still-to-be- determined regions and not just be holed up in offices in Norristown, Pottstown and Willow Grove.

The navicates, who are already on the county's payroll but who will need additional training, will be much more readily accessible to residents, said Shapiro. And, he said, the same navicate would stay with the resident throughout the process.

The county is still hammering out the details of the new system, including the number of navicates that will be needed, locations where the navicates will set up and a training program for the navicates, according to Shapiro.

The county will be rolling out details answering these questions over the next month, he added.

No costs for the program are available although Shapiro said the program will be "revenue neutral.”

The unveiling of the navicate system came during a forum hosted by the North Penn Community Health Foundation to discuss the impact of federal, state and even philanthropic funding cuts for the "safety net” for the county's needy.

More than 200 nonprofit directors, foundation representatives, county officials and community leaders attended the event held at the Blue Bell Country Club in Whitpain.

 


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