Local community members can learn more about Marysville and Arlington’s embedded social worker program at a public panel discussion on May 28.
The event is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Smokey Point Community Church, 17721 Smokey Point Blvd., Arlington.
The embedded social worker program partners a police officer with a social worker who work to build relationships with homeless individuals who have substance abuse problems and get them the help they need.
“Bringing police and social workers together to help people is showing really positive results,” said Connie Mennie, communications administrator with the city of Marysville.
Social workers can guide those who want help into services to beat addiction and get housing.
“A lot of them didn’t know how to get the help they needed,” said Mennie.
The outreach method is meant to be an alternative to the usual arrest and jail for those who desire to recover.
“This model of building relationships has worked to help a lot of people,” said Mennie.
“In some of the more impacted areas, such as Smokey Point, we’ve heard that people are seeing a lot less of the criminal activity,” she said.
The panel will include Snohomish County officials, Marysville and Arlington officials, local police officers and members of the embedded social worker teams.
City officials encourage the public to come to the panel to learn more about the program.
“We made a promise for an update to the public when we started this, so we want to provide that,” said Banfield.
The program began last spring and the cities will share data about the number of contacts, number of assessments and number of people who have secured housing who have been supported by the program.
Since May of last year the county has standardized the data from Marysville and Arlington’s program and the other social worker group they run in south county.
“They were really able to start making the data the same from all the different groups,” said Banfield.
That allows for “apples-to-apples” comparison of the numbers.
“We’re pretty excited to show some of the things we’ve been able to do with the program,” said Banfield.
Marysville officials are also happy with the number of people helped so far.
“Overall, the city is really encouraged with the results of the process,” said Mennie.
“We want to talk about if this program is making a difference. We believe it is and can show that,” she said.
The embedded social worker program is a two-year pilot program for the area.
“At the end of the two years we will have to decide whether to continue on this path or try something different,” said Banfield.
Panelists plan to discuss the future of the program as well at the event.
“Going forward, what are the next steps for the program, and what does the city and county need to keep the program going,” said Mennie.
The biggest stumbling block for the program right now is helping individuals secure an income.
“It’s really hard to find a job when you have that kind of employment history,” said Mennie. “We have had some businesses step up and begin to hire people from the program and are looking for more of that kind of support."
There will also be an opportunity for Q&A at the panel.