North West Austin Neighborhood Real Estate
Brian Kerman
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Williamson County Launches Website To Search For Community Resources

By
Courtesy of Community  Impact News

WilCo launches website to search for community resources

Williamson County launched a website in May that allows residents to search for community resources, such as health care, food, housing and mental health services, in their surrounding area.

The site was designed to connect residents with available services throughout the county, said Annie Burwell, director of the Williamson County Mobile Outreach Team, a group of mental health specialists who help residents in the county. Burwell said although there are nonprofits and social service agencies that provide a wide range of services throughout the county, it can be difficult for residents to find an organization when they are in need.

“[The website is] really easy for people who are searching for resources to find what they need easily without having to go through this big Google search,” Burwell said. “We found by far this is the most straightforward way for people to search for things they need.”

Residents can visit the website at www.wilco.org/communityresources and enter their ZIP code to confidentially search for nearby services. Austin-based company Aunt Bertha, which builds online directories to help connect residents to social services in their area, will vet all of the community resources and keep the directory up to date, Burwell said.

“Things are always changing, which makes [the website] so much better than a paper resource directory. We can always get caught up,” she said.

Andrea Richardson, executive director of Bluebonnet Trails Community Services—Williamson County’s mental health provider—said the website helps to educate families about Bluebonnet’s services. She said the site also helps her staff stay aware of other available area providers and resources.

“We find families and communities will benefit from the website through education of available resources,” she said. “[It will connect] families with beneficial social services provided through local nonprofit organizations.”

The website will cost about $12,000 per year and is funded by the Medicaid 1115 Waiver, which provides funds to improve health outcomes for the county and the region, Burwell said.

The concept for the website was created by the county’s Systems of Care Group, a group of health care agencies comprising Williamson County EMS and the Mobile Outreach Team, the Williamson County and Cities Health District, St. David’s HealthCare, Lone Star Circle of Care, Samaritan Health Clinic, Healthcare Link, the Williamson County Wellness Alliance, Sacred Heart and Bluebonnet Trails.

Michelle Covarrubias, the grant and sustainability coordinator with Williamson County EMS, said the group has been meeting for the past 2 1/2 years to focus on gaps in the health care system and identify where it can collaborate and better address any disparities in the county through community partnerships.

The Systems of Care Group recognized that residents needed an easy way to search for services and that social service agencies needed a streamlined way to manage medical referrals, Covarrubias said. The website also cuts down on the amount of resident patient forms and records, which can be shared among organizations confidentially.

The group also identified transportation, food insecurity and access to care as larger issues experienced by residents throughout Williamson County. Covarrubias said the website will help provide access to some of these services.

The website also gathers data on which resources are needed in specific ZIP codes. Burwell said if residents in one ZIP code continually search for the same service, such as a food bank, the data could alert the county that there may be a larger need for that resource in that area. Covarrubias said the data would help the local organizations identify trends.

“That way we can identify what other programs we need in addition to what we think already exists,” she said.

 


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