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Social Services seeks to expand office space

Stark County Social Services in Dickinson is planning to expand its office space.

The county agency needs more space at its 12th Street West location to better serve its clients and meet the demands of a growing population, Russ Hoff, social services board chairman, explained.

"We're checking to see what the needs are for social services. Right now they're quite full. In fact, they're over-full," Hoff said. "They have offices where they're made into two offices and we're looking to expand that, preferably right where it's at."

The space, as it is currently configured, has become inadequate for meeting the demands of a growing community, Hoff said.

"We've had a spike in the last five or six years," he said. "We had other families move in here and required different needs."

The agency itself has grown as well.

"We've added some personnel within the last few years and the office space there was not meant for the volume of traffic that we have now versus 10 years ago," he said.

Among the challenges created by the limited space is staff being able to meet with clients in private, Hoff said.

"Some of it has to be somewhat in a secured area, an area for confidentiality," he said. "That's where a lot of times offices can't be shared by others."

The agency now is determining how much space exactly will be needed.

"We're visiting with the director over there and getting a needs assessment done to find out where we're at exactly," Hoff said. "We definitely plan on building on sometime in the future."

Social Services plans to only expand its current space and is not seeking to relocate to a new facility, Hoff said.

"If there would be some issue with the building, maybe we would have to look elsewhere," he said. "But as of right now that's the plan."

There is plenty of space for adding on to the facility, Hoff said.

"There's almost quite close to another two-thirds of what the size of the building is now," he said. "We could probably add on another 50 to 70 feet. It depends on the needs. Not only the needs for now, but looking at the future."

Stark County Social Services provides many services for the community, Hoff said, including foster care, low-income programs, special needs programs, parent aid and more.

"The services are for many different situations," he said. "There's all kinds. I can go on for a list of 20."

Hoff lauded the efforts of the county's social services agency.

"We have a very dedicated bunch of individuals over there," he said. "Our director (Diane Mortenson) does a first-rate job."