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Ozarks Technical Community College among seven chosen across state for social services pilot program

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 4:26 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2020 at 6:19 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) is one of seven campuses across the state of Missouri launching a pilot Social Services program this week.

“Nearly half of the students that attend OTC are also Pell Grant eligible, which means very often there are other needs that they are missing and could really use help with,” said Joan Barrett, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. “Most of these students are working, raising families and trying to go to school at the same time.”

Barrett said the college was chosen to have a state social services employee on campus each Thursday as part of the pilot program that launched this week. The program will be by appointment only.

“Having that staff member available for our staff and our students one day a week will provide an opportunity for students to seek all of the services that the Division of Social Services offers,” Barrett said. “Food assistance, childcare assistance, some health care, those basic needs that if there are gaps very often the Division of Social Services can fill.”

Erin Dooley, one of the college’s academic advisors said students often come to her for help for both schooling and their personal lives. Recently, she said one student reached out who lost their job as a result of COVID-19.

”That student went from studying for their next exam, focused on their next assignments to worrying about how they were going to feed their family and how they were going to pay their rent,” Dooley said.

Though the college does have some resources to help, she said this partnership with the state will help them break barriers for students they couldn’t before.

”So instead of referring a student to a resource that is across town, I can take a student to a resource that is literally in the office right next to me and they can get started applying for some benefits that can help them fill the gaps,” Dooley said.

The program only assists staff and students at the college. Due to COVID-19, the services will only be virtual right now.

For more information about the program, students can email studentservices@otc.edu or call 417-447-6900.

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