Department of Social Services Children’s Services Unit opening Massena satellite office
BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI
North Country This Week
CANTON — The Department of Social Services Children’s Services Unit will soon have another satellite office, this time in Massena.
St. Lawrence County legislators on the services committee approved a resolution that will allow the chairman to sign a contract to lease a space located at 280 Main St.The decision came during the committee’s Oct. 24 meeting.
According to Joseph Seeber, Commissioner of DSS, the move comes after the “resounding success” seen with the satellite office in Ogdensburg.
That location was approved last October and was designed to “root employees in the community and situate them closer to both schools and families with an expectation of a six month review to determine if it should continue.”
The main offices for DSS, located on Judson St. in Canton, has seen the Children’s Services Unit expand in recent months, necessitating the satellite offices.
“We had been exploring expanding our services again to different parts of the county,” Seeber said.
Seeber said his office has heard it is difficult for many families around the county to come to the main DSS office, leading the department to assess options on how to better serve the community.
According to the resolution, the SWOT analysis conducted by County Administrator Ruth Doyle demonstrated the pilot program in Ogdensburg was a success, leading to the immediate recommendation to grow the location while also searching for a second location in Massena.
Officials say the Massena location would allow the department to decrease response times and create inclusive practices with the Massena community.
“I think it will serve our needs very well and this resolution is to ask the chair to be able to sign that lease effective Nov. 1, we’re hoping with a targeted move in date of Jan. 1,” Seeber said.
The space is 2,400 square feet and will house a unit from each area of Children’s Services with space for ancillary services to rotate in availability, including staff from Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), Temporary Assistance (TA), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other units, officials say.
The lease agreement will run from Jan. 1, 2023 through Dec. 31, 2027 with additional one-year options available. Payments are set to begin upon occupancy of the location.
Cost of the contract will be $16.25 per month per square foot or $39,000 annually, with a 2% increase annually built into the deal.
The resolution will require full board approval before DSS can close on the location and begin moving in.