Partnerships Boost Erie County Social Services' Outreach into Suburban, Rural Centers

Modified: November 10, 2015 2:39pm

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UB School of Social Work, Community Organizations Collaborate to Link Residents with Services

ERIE COUNTY, NY— The Erie County Department of Social Services has announced a new partnership with the University at Buffalo School of Social Work and ten community organizations designed to make it easier for county residents to access Social Services programs. The partnership will result in the development of ten community locations throughout Erie County where residents can get help applying for an array of programs from University at Buffalo Social Work Graduate Student interns.

“As I stated in my Initiatives for a Stronger Community, it is not good enough for Erie County to provide services if they are not available where and when they are needed. Many Erie County residents are eligible for critical programs administered by Erie County, but are unable to take advantage due to transportation issues,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “This partnership with the University at Buffalo will make services that were previously out-of-reach for many county residents available in a nearby library, community center or human service agency.”

The graduate student interns will be able to directly assist qualified residents in applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”), home energy assistance or low income child care assistance. Certain residents may have to be interviewed over the phone by a Social Services employee at a later date. The interns are also knowledgeable about other programs available within the community, and will be able to link residents with services that address their specific needs.

Social Services Commissioner Al Dirschberger added, “The Erie County Department of Social Services and New York State have been working hard to allow residents the ability to apply online for public benefit programs. However, many residents are not computer literate or find the application process too difficult and intimidating. These graduate student interns will be able to facilitate the online application process for the resident while also identifying other programs the resident should access.”

“It is currently virtually impossible for people in rural areas of Erie County to access services. The placement of a student intern will make it much easier for these residents to receive assistance. These services, in conjunction with those offered by the Rural Outreach Center, will help people move toward self-sufficiency,” said Frank Cerny, Board Chair of the Rural Outreach Center.

“We are excited at the opportunity to partner with the Department of Social Services in bringing access to our community on the East Side. All too often accessing vital services 'downtown' can be an overwhelming challenge. Being able to connect with Department of Social Services programs here in our neighborhood is a godsend,” said Rev. Gary C. Steeves, Pastor at Resurrection Village Ministries.


The graduate student interns will be available at the following times and locations:





Resurrection Village Ministry, 3 Doat Street, Buffalo




Belmont Housing Resources for WNY, 1195 Main Street, Buffalo




Anna Reinstein Memorial Library, 2580 Harlem Road, Cheektowaga




Lackawanna Public Library, 560 Ridge Road, Lackawanna




Springville/Concord Public Library, 18 Chapel Street, Springville




Akron/Newstead Library, 33 Main Street, Akron




City of Tonawanda Public Library, 333 Main Street, Tonawanda




Rural Outreach Center, 730 Olean Road, East Aurora




Seneca-Babcock Community Association, 1168 Seneca Street, Buffalo




West Seneca Coalition Resource Center at New Hope, 2846 Seneca Street, West Seneca





All locations will be staffed by the week of November 16.



For more information:

On the Erie County Department of Social Services, visit