The Newington Department of Human Services was established in 1955 to assist residents with social, emotional and economic needs. Since the inception of the department, the community has grown and we have evolved into a full-service agency. In an effort to meet Newington's changing needs, the Department offers a wide variety of programs that serve children, youth, families, adults, persons with disabilities and the elderly. Social Work, Financial Assistance and Mental Health services are provided on a confidential basis. We are very appreciative of the generosity and support from the community through contributions and volunteerism.
PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
Prevention and Positive Youth and Family Development
The "Rite of Passage Experience" (R.O.P.E.) is a three phase community approach to prevention and positive youth development. R.O.P.E begins the transition from childhood to adulthood and addresses important adolescent issues by promoting self-esteem, teaching decision-making, problem-solving, team-building and understanding peer pressure. It is integrated into the sixth grade Health curriculum of both Middle Schools and facilitated by Human Services staff. This program includes classroom and outdoor experiences that includes a "Final Challenge" day on our ropes course. A parent orientation is offered during Open House at the beginning of each school year. Seventh and eighth grade students also participate in a variety of outdoor/adventure based activities that reinforce the R.O.P.E. program and its challenge by choice philosophy in preparation for the transition from middle to high school. We also offer a "Community Building" initiative for fifth grade students that assists with the experience of transitioning into middle school.
The SCORE after-school program entitled Student Challenge of Recreation Education, begins the second phase of R.O.P.E. for all middle school students. Its purpose is to connect the important environments of school, community and family and offer youth opportunities to meaningfully use their leisure time. Seasonal programs include, Horseback Riding, Indoor Wall Climbing, Geo-caching, Adventure Club, Canoeing, Social and Cultural activities and much more. A SCORE brochure is available through Human Services, Parks & Recreation, Library, Schools and on the town website at www.newingtonct.gov
The third phase of R.O.P.E. encourages youth and young adults to give back to the community through voluntary service projects. High school and middle school youth are involved in a variety of service projects from cleaning up our town and state parks to high school aged mentors working with middle school youth.
Summer Youth Adventure
The Summer Youth Adventure Program is offered to all middle-school age youth. Programs include backpacking, canoeing, camping, biking, crafts, rock climbing, cultural trips and community service. These activities are designed to teach skills in leadership, teamwork, problem-solving and decision-making. They also emphasize FUN. Registration, reduced fees and a complete summer schedule is available through a town brochure and on the website at www.newingtonct.gov
Outdoor Challenge Course
The department offers an Adventure-Based Challenge Ropes Course. The physical structure is designed to provide a variety of progressively difficult skill-building challenges for all ages. The philosophy we use is "Challenge by Choice." Staff are trained and certified to facilitate initiatives using low or high elements. Businesses, youth groups and local organizations interested in team-building and leadership activities are invited to explore this powerful training experience.
"Staying Connected with Your Teen" is a four-session course dealing with the changes in our society affecting the family. A trained parent educator teaches practical strategies for developing capable, caring and responsible young people. Additional parent programs are presented on topics such as child development, bullying, discipline and substance abuse.
Information and Referral
Information requests about resources and services are received from residents daily. Our skilled staff answers questions about housing, financial assistance, childcare, eldercare, mental health, home health and many other needs.
Youth and Family Counseling
Confidential counseling is provided to youth and families by skilled, credentialed professionals. Referrals are accepted from parents, youth, schools, clergy, police, courts and other social service agencies. Residents present issues in areas, such as child and adolescent development, school adjustment and behavior, substance abuse, suicidal ideation, family conflict and reactions to death and divorce. Each family's unique needs determines whether counselors use individual, group or family therapy. Services are available on a sliding scale fee. Appointments are available weekdays and evenings. Please feel free to contact us for a no cost initial consultation from a trained professional.
Juvenile Review Board
The Juvenile Review Board is a collaborative effort between Human Services, the Police Department, Newington Public Schools, Juvenile Court, DCF and Interfaith Clergy Association. The Board meets twice a month to provide the community with a confidential means to assist youth who are involved in criminal or risky behaviors as an alternative to punitive actions such as Juvenile Court.
Our social workers provide case management, clinical assessment and counseling to adults, elderly and families. Residents bring to us issues of mental health, family relations, disabilities, medical and financial needs. Staff is available at town hall and through home visits.
When individuals or families are without housing, food or in emotional crisis, shelter and/or support services may be needed. After the regular work week hours, social workers may also be accessed through the Police Department. During community disasters, Human Services may assist emergency personnel with evacuation, shelter and mental health services.
Financial Assistance Assessments
Our staff is knowledgeable about federal, state and private financial assistance resources. Residents in need are encouraged to schedule an appointment so we may determine their eligibility. Our Special Needs Fund provides limited emergency basic need assistance through generous contributions from school, business, religious, civic organizations and residents.
Food Bank/Holiday Food, Toy and Gift /Clothing Closet
Community donations of money and nonperishable food items provide emergency assistance for our food bank throughout the year. At Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah, we provide holiday food, toys and gifts to low income residents to brighten their holidays. We also receive donated clothing from the community and make it available to residents in need. Civic organizations, schools, businesses, religious groups, individuals and community volunteers are essential contributors to these programs.
Interfaith Community Action of Newington (ICAN)
ICAN is an interfaith project supported by the Interfaith Clergy Association and administered by Human Services. Volunteers from Newington congregations offer assistance to residents in need to supplement services provided through the Senior and Disabled Center and Human Services. Assistance includes small household repairs, shopping and visiting, transportation to medical appointments when Dial-A-Ride is not available and leaf raking. The ICAN phone line is: 665-8791.
Volunteers and Student Interns
Volunteers and student interns are always welcome. People are needed to help pack and deliver food baskets, stock the food pantry, organize the clothing closet and be mentors to youth. Students placed by area universities are trained in social casework, youth work and adventure-based activities. Professional social workers provide supervision.
American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Town of Newington does not discriminate on the basis of disability in access to or employment in programs, services or activities. The Director of Human Services is appointed as the ADA Coordinator and coordinates the Towns' efforts to comply with the requirements of the federal law.
Boards and Commissions
Newington has four Town boards and commissions concerned about human services, human relations and community safety. We provide support to the Youth-Adult Council, Safety Committee, Fair Rent and Human Rights Commissions. A special monthly report is also provided to the Commission on Aging and The Disabled.
Prevention is the active process of creating conditions that promote the well-being of people. We organize and encourage citizens, institutions, service organizations and decision-makers to plan programs and strategies which foster positive growth and social adjustment. As advocates, we try to see that individual residents and groups, such as youth, elderly, indigent families and persons with disabilities obtain needed benefits, services and resources.
Our staff frequently plan and coordinate services with other agencies. Our goal is to insure that individual needs are assessed, services are provided and duplication is avoided.
Community Awareness and Education
We provide speakers,videos, cable access TV shows and presentations on issues of concern to the community. We speak to school classes, civic and religious groups and the general public. We often collaborate with other town departments and agencies to co-sponsor speakers of interest. Some of the topics have included early childhood development, parenting, grief and dying, substance abuse, bullying, violence, diversity, caregiving, divorce and specific mental health issues.
Funding Support and Contributions
We receive ongoing funds from several State agencies including the Departments of Education, Social Services and Mental Health and Addiction Services. These grants and service fees are reflected as revenue as part of our annual operating budget. In addition, we receive contributions from businesses, schools, civic groups, religious organizations and residents for our Special Needs Fund to support the Food Bank, Holiday Programs and emergency basic need assistance.
To find out more about specific services, please call our office. If your religious, civic or school group would like a presentation on our services or current social trends and issues please feel free to contact us.