The South Carolina Office of Rural Health (SCORH) recently launched a pilot program to place social work students in rural libraries to connect residents to local resources such as health care, housing and employment services. The first social work student is working at the Union County Carnegie Library.

“The premise is simple: Social workers connect people to the community resources they need, and libraries are committed to being welcoming and safe places where people can access that information,” said Rieta Drinkwine, Director of the Union County Library System. “We’re proud to provide a place where social workers can sit with residents and help them navigate the services in our community.”

This project is funded by a $25,000 Catalyst Grant from the BlueCross® BlueShield® of South Carolina Foundation, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Additional students from the University of South Carolina College of Social Work will be placed at rural libraries across South Carolina as the program expands. The project will utilize existing community needs assessments along with contextual information gathered from library staff members to inform how to best implement social worker services in each location.

“This project will allow SCORH to better understand how we can expand access to social services by providing information and resources in nontraditional locations,” said Lindsey Kilgo, Program Manager of Behavioral Health Services at SCORH. Kilgo is also a social worker and an instructor in the College of Social Work. “As we close the information gaps, we hope we see improved health outcomes for both the individuals and the communities as a whole.”