Ethel R. Lawrence Homes and Robinson Estates
The Social Services Department at Ethel R. Lawrence Homes (ERLH) offers a robust system of support to residents of our Mount Laurel developments. Our staff includes a Director of Social Services as well as an Associate Director of Education and Social Services. Our social services program offers on-site job readiness training, financial literacy classes, conflict resolution counseling, and stress management workshops, including mindfulness meditation. We also offer a youth mentoring program, as well as on-site workshops to improve parenting skills and provide higher education support to adults who want to go to college, vocational school or who are seeking specialized career training or certification. We conduct individualized wellness assessments of our tenants and refer select residents to appropriate Burlington County behavioral health providers or other social service agencies, which can provide more in-depth services to help our most vulnerable tenants develop the strength and resilience they need to move towards a brighter tomorrow.
We are constantly nurturing and building on our relationship with our tenants to encourage stakeholder engagement, thereby ensuring our programs are strategic and effective. We do this through social work assessments, as well as regularly scheduled tenant meetings. We are working on developing a series of online surveys to provide a more convenient way for tenants to provide feedback. In 2016, our Education Center Jesuit Volunteer conducted in-depth interviews with our parents who provided staff with a detailed series of recommendations on how to improve our homework club, tutoring program, summer enrichment camp, housing development operations and new recreation area programming. Click here to read more about this important report.
Fair Share Support Services (FSSS), the social services arm of FSHD which is headquartered at Northgate II, is at the forefront of a national movement to integrate housing with supportive wellness services in low-income settings as part of an effort to improve care while reducing healthcare costs. The goal of our program is to allow Northgate II seniors to age in place in their own homes, surrounded by their treasured belongings and supported by an internal network of neighbors and staff who know them well. Our wellness work helps to improve the health and functional ability of our elderly tenants in order to avoid, minimize or forestall the likelihood of institutional placement in a nursing home.
We have also built a comprehensive support network for our other residents (people with special needs and families with children) as they rise to overcome the many health challenges that are associated with the trauma of living in one of the poorest, most violent cities in the nation.
Our program features an Assisted Living and senior day care program (through Caring, Inc.), healthy cooking classes, exercise classes, weight loss support groups, chronic disease self-management workshops, supplemental food programs (through Twilight Harvest, a partnership with the Food Bank of South Jersey), and massage therapy, among other programs, which not only help our residents feel better about their lives but can also lead to significant medical savings due to fewer emergency hospitalizations and, in some cases, a decline in prescription drug needs and their related costs. Over the years, the Social Services department has worked to support Northgate II’s Resident Advisory Board, which provides a forum for tenants to voice their concerns and to ensure the operations of the building are reflective of resident needs.