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This winter the Office of Public Assistance (OPA) closed due to state budget cuts. Carbon County was one of 19 OPA offices to close in the state. In response, the Foundation facilitated a Community Dialogue to learn more about what services we would be missing and to determine next steps. Subsequently, the OPA Closure Subcommittee was formed and determined that the expansion of the Navigator program could be a step toward filling the gap. Navigators are volunteers who receive primary knowledge of resource applications and are trained to act as a guide when individuals need assistance applying for services.
Ten individuals have recently received training to be Navigators. Providing the training was Heidi Mann, a former Carbon County OPA caseworker as well as staff from the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) in Billings. The volunteers received instruction in Healthcare, TANF and SNAP applications as well as Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship, LIEAP and Energy Share. The trainings are recorded so others wishing to be trained as Navigators can do so. Although Navigators cannot replace the expertise of OPA caseworkers they can provide the community the opportunity to receive application and resource assistance close to home.
All residents of Carbon County may receive Navigation in Red Lodge. Over time, the plan is to train volunteers who reside in other Carbon County communities. If you are interested in receiving more information about application assistance of Navigator training, please contact Therese Picasso-Edwards at 446-0908 or Navigator@rlacf.org.