Libraries have long been a place of refuge for homeless people. And security guards have long been booting out the homeless people who sleep in the easy chair or leave their belongings lying around. However, some libraries are handling the situation from a different perspective. They are hiring social workers to sit in the library and help homeless people with their problems. Some cities utilizing this plan include Chicago, Denver, New York City, San Francisco and Washington D.C. About 30 public libraries now hire full-time social workers.
According to an article in the LA Times, a licensed social worker at a public library can help homeless people find temporary or permanent housing, get proper medical care, fill out necessary forms, and find work.
The library is an ideal place to set up because the homeless people are already there. Homeless people might not go to an office to find a social worker, but if the social worker is in the library (a safe place), it's only a matter of walking over to her table and asking for help. In fact, shyness can be overcome slowly if interaction begins with the social worker walking around and chatting with different people in the library.
What about libraries that don't face the same problems with homelessness that big-city libraries face? They could still benefit from a social worker. Many people, old and young, need help. Elderly people may not understand how to change housing when their current conditions are unsatisfactory. Immigrant workers might worry about the cost of healthcare and require assistance signing up for Medicare. Young people without a safe place to go after school may need a type of social program to keep them from causing disruption in the quiet library. A social worker can deal with all these situations.
Are you interested in a job in social work? Or do you need to hire a social worker? Contact Staffing Plus for help. And if you are interested in learning more about this and related topics, visit the Behavioral Health section of our blog.
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