With one eye on the future, a group of citizens is working on this question: What social services don’t exist in the Spokane Valley?
A one-word answer is: plenty.
And as these representatives from several agencies start to hammer out a more detailed answer, the obvious has dawned on them. The Valley’s potential for growth, combined with today’s concentration of social services within the city of Spokane, means the need here will only increase.
“All they have to do now (to get to services) is get on Sprague or the freeway and come downtown. Well, that’s OK for people with resources, but it’s not for a single mom with two or three kids and no transportation,” said Wayne Rounsville, director of the Children’s Home Society.
What kind of services is this committee talking about?
Community mental health counseling, Department of Social and Health Services offices, neighborhood centers, parenting classes, energy assistance, low-income dental, medical and pharmacy. The list goes on.
“We have a definite need for some domestic violence services. We need the same kind of drug and gang prevention services that are available within the city,” said Barbara Olson, director of the Valley Center of Sharing and head of this inter-agency committee.
Coincidentally, the Valley Center board of directors has begun to explore other locations than the center’s cramped building at 11922 E. First.
“It’s a known fact that we’ve outgrown it,” Olson said.
Immunization clinics and well-child exams are available at Valley Center, but other low-cost or free medical services are missing from the Valley.
“The health district has talked for years, on and off, about what services we might want to make available to people located in the Valley,” said Elaine Blair of the Spokane County Health District.
This exploration into missing services sprang from a query from Mirabeau Point chairman Denny Ashlock. It’s too early to say if Mirabeau Point might offer a site for any social services, committee members said.
The committee that was formed to look at this issue includes representatives from the YWCA, the YMCA, the Children’s Home Society, the Health District, Meals on Wheels, East Valley School Superintendent Chuck Stocker and Jeanne Ager of Ager Consulting.
The committee’s work is just beginning, members said.
“It usually takes things longer than anyone expects to get done,” Rounsville said. “I think we’re looking at ‘99 or 2000 to have anything on the ground. We probably should have started sooner.”
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