- Associated Press - Monday, May 26, 2014

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Oregon’s rural poor often have difficulty reaching social services centered in urban areas. It’s expensive and inefficient to provide outreach in many far-flung places.

So a Polk County initiative aims to bring multiple disparate social services to one place.

Polk County opened a social services hub in Dallas where low-income families can find everything from rental assistance to help with the Oregon Health Plan, The Statesman Journal reported (https://stjr.nl/1jJUVXq).

Other services include immunizations and disability services.

“All the services that serve our most at-risk families are spread all over,” said Brent DeMoe, manager of Polk County Family & Community Outreach.

The family resource center is based on several others that have popped up in Oregon.

At its best, Polk County officials hope the hub will be able to offer low-income families resources they may not have known were available.

“In Polk County this is the first time this many social service agencies are coming together in one spot to serve families in our area,” DeMoe said.

Melissa Baurer with The Salvation Army said she believes it will eliminate a lot of running around both for families and for those who help them.

“Instead of calling a partner,” she said, “I can walk down the hall and say, ‘I have this need how can we partner together to help them.’”

A family might come in needing emergency diapers, for example, but the nonprofit might discover they don’t have health insurance and they qualify for the Oregon Health Plan, she said.

“Those are the successes that make us think this is going to be awesome,” DeMoe said.

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