LINCROFT — The Monmouth County Division of Social Services and Brookdale Community College are launching a partnership to more readily and easily provide social services to students who desperately need them.

Freeholder Sue Kiley said the collaboration was forged through an assessment that resulted in last year's formation of Monmouth ACTS, or Assisting Communities Through Services. Brookdale was one of the organizations polled in the assessment, and both administrators and students there identified a heightened need for effective access to services.

These areas include, but are not limited to, housing and homeless services — Kiley said unfortunately, she is aware of some students who live out of their cars — financial assistance programs, SNAP, Medicaid, disability services, and domestic violence services.

It is now the task of Sylvina Mendez, a social worker with more than 30 years' experience in the field, to attend the Brookdale campus twice a week to meet with anyone who may need help in any of these ways.

"The social worker is touching on all different kinds of areas that may impact them, and I think the more people get to know about the program, the more the students get to know about the program, the more they are going to access it," Kiley said.

It's not yet clear how many total students, per school year, could potentially be impacted by the program.

What Monmouth ACTS aims to do, maybe more than anything else, is connect nonprofits and public entities so that all Monmouth residents, not just the students at Brookdale, can be directed to the proper resource for their particular circumstance.

Kiley said that will help unlock a new world of possibilities for her constituents to improve their situations.

"What I hear all the time from our residents is, 'We don't have enough service,' or, 'Where can I go to get help?,'" she said. "We have a lot of service. We have a lot of help available to our residents. The problem is that they don't know about it."

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Patrick Lavery is Senior Producer of Morning News and Special Programming for New Jersey 101.5, and is lead reporter and substitute anchor for "New Jersey's First News." Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

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