JANESVILLE — A new one-stop help center for the elderly, people with disabilities, their families and caregivers has opened in Janesville.
The Aging and Disability Resource Center of Rock County opened March 13 in the Rock County Job Center building, 1900 Center Ave., said Jennifer Thompson, division manager.
“This is a resource and information facility for these people to come and receive assistance and for us to meet whatever need they might have,” she said.
Thompson, who also is manager of Long-Term Support for Rock County at the job center, said the center is needed because people often don't know where to start looking for help. She said many find it overwhelming to navigate through such a large number of community resources.
An administrative assistant charged with connecting people with specialists who work with Thompson and a supervisor will greet those who call or stop in at the center.
Staff will talk to people and try to help them understand what their needs are. From there, staff will provide information on available options and resources in the community.
If the person seeking help is disabled and is uncomfortable making a phone call, staff will coordinate resources and get help to them, Thompson said.
Those with chronic mental illness or mental health issues also are welcome to use the center, but only for information and referrals, Thompson said.
Right now, five information and assistant specialists are working at the center. By the end of the year, there will be 10, Thompson said.
Of those 10, two will serve as disability benefit specialists working specifically with people 18 to 59 years old with physical or developmental disabilities.
“They are geared more to helping people with problem solving—Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other health insurance benefits, whether public or private insurance benefits,” Thompson said.
For example, she said, if someone is denied Social Security disability, he or she could come to the center and work with a disability benefit specialist for assistance through an appeal process.
Thompson stressed the center is information assistance, not a hotline, and she wants the local ADRC to become recognized as a place for the elderly and disabled to come for help.
“This is a one-stop shop—a resource and information facility—where staff can weed through issues one by one and get people where they need to go,'' she said.