Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton will be the lead agency in a state-wide effort to provide Disaster Case Management services to Superstorm Sandy victims.
The Christie administration announced March 22 that the agency had been selected to coordinate and administer an award of up to $8.7 million among the state’s five diocesan Catholic Charities agencies for social services to New Jersey residents in need of post-Sandy assistance.
This marks the first time all Catholic Charities agencies in the state will collaborate on a specific statewide service project said Marlene Lao-Collins, executive director of the Trenton agency.
“This is an incredible challenge and opportunity for us and our sister Catholic Charities agencies in the other dioceses of New Jersey,” said Lao-Collins.
The grant will enable the agencies to provide additional case management to help Sandy victims connect to resources available through federal, state, local and private resources, said Lao-Collins.
“One of the greatest challenges for survivors of Superstorm Sandy is that of understanding the multiple processes involved in accessing resources available from government and private sources that can help them rebuild their homes and communities,” she said.
It was the emphasis on case management that prompted the agency to apply for the project, she said, noting this is a particular “service line and strength we have as an agency and a consortium of New Jersey Catholic Charities.”
In its application, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton, indicated that it would be able to coordinate the DCM activities, partnering with Catholic Charities of the Camden, Metuchen, Newark and Paterson dioceses to serve disaster survivors state-wide.
In announcing the grant, Gov. Chris Christie pointed to disaster case managers as being “a critical service support for New Jersey residents impacted by Superstorm Sandy.”
“As individuals and families work towards storm recovery, they will have to be able to access professionals that can guide them to programs and services where a variety of needs they have can be addressed.”
He said that Catholic Charities will be able to provide one-to-one guidance, linking those impacted by Sandy to the full spectrum of resources.
Jennifer Velez, New Jersey commissioner of Human Services called such expertise “essential to understanding and supporting residents’ efforts to rebuild and recover their lives.”
DCM is geared toward helping clients make wise use of available resources and provide comprehensive referrals to services that include health care, transportation assistance and household needs.
A federally funded program administered by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency, it works in partnership with states to enable a “whole community” approach through funding to voluntary, faith-based and nonprofit organizations.
Robert Hodnett, associate service area director of Catholic Charities Children and Family Services, will oversee implementation of the grant. He expressed confidence that the experience of Catholic Charities statewide will contribute to success in helping those impacted by Sandy rebuild their lives.
Disaster Case Management services under Catholic Charities can be accessed by calling 1-800-652-2080.
Compiled by Lois Rogers