Paula Fitzgerald is there to help. A Case Manager from Peterborough’s Social Services, she can help clients navigate the vast array of programs designed to help people get back on their feet or to help them through a transition. Since 2016, she has been providing support to clients in the Ontario Works program in an office at the Millbrook branch of the Cavan Monaghan Library several days a week, but has now added Wednesday afternoon hours in an Outreach program to extend more support to those in need.
Sometimes people just need help with a computer to find the information they need. Other times the requirements are more extensive, and individuals need help to advance their goals with support from Social Services staff working in conjunction with community partners, to address issues including temporary emergency, employment planning, child care location and subsidies, education and training, homelessness prevention and substance abuse.
By far the most common questions surround the Ontario Works program. It provides temporary and often immediate financial assistance for food and shelter, help with tenant eviction issues, heat and hydro disconnection threats and help to prepare for and to secure a job. According to Outreach program staff, the most common enquiries centre around job search, resume building and other employment support. To qualify for the program, clients work with staff to develop an individual employment plan that sets out the employment assistance activities that will lead to finding employment. Other support includes funds to prepare for interviews and secure police checks, and helping with child care during employment-related activities.
There are also subsidies for child care fees available for low income families and children with special needs. The Ontario Works program supports family members returning to school, participating in community or work related placements, entering the workforce, or to address social needs in children with developmental issues.
In addition to the provincial programs, Case Workers like Paula is there to guide residents to community legal resources, answer questions about access to Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan, and even help applicants complete the required paperwork. If you’re struggling to find some help, Paula’s extensive network of community partners is there when you need it- just ask! Drop in or call her for an appointment at 705-750-7306. KG