TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — A collaboration between local law enforcement and three non-profit organizations has been announced.
Tuesday, the Terre Haute Police Department announced they would be working with Union Health Foundation, United Way of the Wabash Valley, and the Wabash Valley Community Foundation to launch a pilot program incorporating an embedded social worker into the department.
The program aims to reduce the number of repeat calls and welfare checks the department receives while connecting those in need with community services.
“So the needs of the community have definitely changed over the years,” UWWV Co-executive Director Abby Desboro said. “So we see this as a different way of addressing that need. We can’t do the same old thing over and over and expect a different outcome. So to see proven success from a program in Bloomington that we can implement here in our community and really help the members of our community reach our fullest potential is a great outcome.”
THPD Chief Shawn Keen said the social worker will be available when the need arises.
“For the most part, the social worker will be acting in a referral capacity,” Keen said. “So if the officer, if I get called, if I get called on the same person for loitering maybe three times that week. I would send an email to the social workers, ‘hey these are the issues I keep having, can you make contact and see if there’s something we can do to help reduce that call?'”
Keen also said after three years the team will look at the data collected and reassess if the program is working the way they need it to. Adding that once the data is put together it would provide an argument that this is a needed position permanently. As well as argue for program expansion if needed, referencing the fact the Bloomington program has expanded to employing three social workers.
“This is a way, by using the grant funding, that we don’t have to take local taxpayer money into the program until we get some data on it. So it’s a way of easing ourselves into it and seeing if it’s actually an evidence-based program,” Keen said. “Once we know that, we can talk about potential expansion.”
THPD has announced it is seeking candidates for the open social worker position, and hopes to have someone in place sometime in July. Qualified candidates should have a Master’s Degree and an Indiana Social Worker License.
For more information, contact the Terre Haute Police Department.