Children's Aid, Health Unit, Social Services form new hub in Leamington

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Windsor Star/Sharon Hill

The Children’s Aid Society is teaming up with other community agencies including the Health Unit and Social Services in Leamington to dramatically transform the way they offer services to county residents.

The society plans to move 30 staff into the renovated Central 33 Building at 33 Princess St. in Leamington by Feb. 8 and Community Hub 33 could open officially in April, Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society CEO Bill Bevan said last week.

The new hub will include the City of Windsor’s employment and social services/Ontario Works team, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, Community Living Essex County and Children First, he said.

“The result will revolutionize our services in the county no question when you consider we’re expanding somewhat and you have a major expansion from public health,” Bevan said of the agencies which often serve the same families.

Residents will be able to find more services in one spot without having to travel to Windsor or other areas in town or the county, he said. Agencies that couldn’t afford their own office in Leamington can now offer services while others can boost services and save money, Bevan said. The savings come from sharing space such as a waiting room and the cost of workers such as a receptionist or security.

“This is big. This is a very unusual kind of thing when you get so many different community agencies going together to have kind of a one-stop shopping almost.”

Renovations on the five-storey former Princess Centre continue. Bevan said other partners are considering joining the hub.

Community Living Essex County and Children First will be offering services there and other partners such as the health unit are boosting staff in Leamington. The children’s aid society is expanding from 3,000 square feet to 13,000 square feet which includes some of the shared space.

Leamington’s economic development officer Jeanine Lassaline-Berglund said it’s great for Leamington. The town has government agencies locating together at the Central 33 building that is undergoing about $5 million in renovations and she hopes a call centre, an investment firm or more agencies will follow.

By locating in the same spot, residents can see the suite of services available to them and these hubs help to keep services at the hospital and attract doctors, she said. The community hub on Princess Street is expected to enhance the hospital’s Neighborhood of Care that has more than 20 agencies at the hospital providing mental health and addiction services.

A short drive down the road is the medical hub across the street from the hospital in a more than $15 million Leamington Medical Village which includes the new hospice. Leamington wants to attract more health-related businesses to that hub, she said.