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Cougar Connections Center of Social Work Opens on Campus

Kean Cougar Connections Center for Social Work met the campus during an outdoor event at Miron

Sometimes, it’s not coursework or exams that keep students from earning their college degree. Some students may be food insecure, or face homelessness, or have other basic needs making it difficult to focus on academics.

A new support service at Kean University, the Cougar Connections Center of Social Work, located at the Center for Academic Success (CAS), Rooms 224-228, is available to help students overcome such challenges and achieve their goal of graduation.

“At Kean University, many of our students have additional responsibilities beyond school. They may work several jobs or be parents. They may have other responsibilities that challenge their ability to reach their educational goals,” said Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. “The Cougar Connections center will help them persist to graduation.”

The Center will also work with a new Union County Department of Human Services social service initiative at Kean. The county department will maintain a presence at CAS, and refer students to resources.

“We feel we can partner with them and leverage the services they offer,” said Kean Associate Vice President of Student Success and Retention Carlos Rodriguez.

The Center works closely with students to assess needs and help refer them to appropriate services. Those services may include directing students on how to apply for NJ SNAP, a food assistance program, or referring them to on-campus and off-campus services for child care, domestic violence, substance abuse or mental health issues.

“There’s an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. It often takes a village to get to graduation,” Rodriguez said.

The Cougar Connections Center was created last spring to address the challenges of students at risk. The Center spent its first months reaching out to other departments and learning about student needs at Kean, said Director Erika Charles. Two social workers began staffing the center in September.

“We’re here to provide campus and community resources to assist students with the multi-layered challenges they are facing outside the classroom,” Charles said. “We want to ensure students’ basic needs are met so they can continue on the path to graduation.”

Confidential referrals can be made by students themselves or by faculty or others to refer students in need. A referral form is available on the Cougar Connections website.