Columbus State now offers case workers on campus for students

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Many students at Columbus State Community College are challenged with working full-time jobs and parenting while studying to earn degrees.

"I knew it would be hard," said Jenae Parker, a consortium transfer student at Columbus State, who is also mother to an 8-year old daughter. "When things are hectic in your personal life, it takes away from your bandwidth when you're in class. Sometimes I can be in class worrying about how I'm going to pay my rent or how I'm going to provide a meal for my daughter and myself."

The community college has partnered with the Franklin County Department of Jobs and Services to provide a case worker on campus.

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"We offer food assistance, cash assistance, medical coverage, [and] we have PRC which is emergency assistance," said Omar Rose, a caseworker who assists students on campus. "We also offer publicly funded childcare."

Rose has been on campus for 3 weeks. He says he's already encountered students who are homeless and in need of emergency funds.

"A lot of people are very happy that we are here because we are so accessible between class and work," Rose said. "It’s very difficult for them to get to an agency or on the phone, to connect with a case manager. So, me being here they are able to go to class and come directly here."

County officials say this new resource will give students the opportunity to complete their degrees with less stress.

"We understand that place-based strategies work," said Joy Bivens, director of Franklin County Job and Family Services. "Students wouldn't have to jump on buses to get to one of our opportunity centers farther away from campus. It doesn't disrupt their day. They can go see the case manager right down the hall -- or even across campus, so they can attend class."

According to county officials, Columbus State is the first institution in Franklin County of higher learning to offer such services on their campus.