East Providence To Hire A Community Response Social Worker

·2 min read

EAST PROVIDENCE, RI — East Providence will hire a community response social worker to address the needs of its residents and first responders, city officials said Friday.

The hire will make East Providence the first community in Rhode Island to have a dedicated civilian municipal social worker to address needs typically filled by police officers and other first responders.

Activists nationwide have advocated that municipalities shift response to mental health crises to social workers and away from police departments to prevent shootings. According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, a national mental health nonprofit, people with untreated mental illnesses are 16 times more likely to be killed during a police encounter than other civilians.

In East Providence, the social worker will be a civilian, but will work under the supervision of Police Chief Christopher Franesconi. Police and emergency officials will also have the social worker available to them for help with work-related trauma.

The social worker will help the city with crisis intervention, social service advocacy, short-term counseling, community outreach and education, and various other social services. Those services include being a resource during crises, including domestic violence, child abuse, sexual abuse, suicide, serious or fatal car crashes and other cases involving emotional trauma and mental health issues.

"We feel it's important to look at the social needs of our community and staff, especially during a time when many are feeling the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic," Mayor Roberto DaSilva said. "Our vision is to hire someone whose full commitment is the needs of our residents and public safety team."

East Providence used to contract an agency for social programs, but funding for the program was gutted and has been inconsistent over the years, city officials said.

Police Chief Christopher Francesconi said officers and police staff frequently face stressful and traumatic events, so he's excited to have the social worker as a resource for the department as well.

"The East Providence Police Department looks forward to having someone on staff that can consistently help us meet the varying needs of those we serve," Francesconi said. "This will allow us to ensure our community receives proper and timely social services when exposed to a traumatic incident or when dealing with a mental health, domestic violence or substance use crisis."

Information about the job, including qualifications and how to apply, can be found on the city website.

This article originally appeared on the East Providence Patch

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