Dr. April Rietdyk, General Manager of Community Human Services for the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, has announced the appointment of Polly Smith, former Program Manager of Employment and Social Services to the role of Director.

“Polly was selected due to her passion for helping people in poverty, her knowledge of the social services sector and her innovative work in employment programming,” Rietdyk stated in a press release.

“Her collaborative approach will increase community partnerships and capacity over the years to come.”

Town Hall meetings with the new director are in the works for early 2019 to facilitate stakeholder discussions on the vision for Employment and Social Services in Chatham-Kent.

“Chatham-Kent’s Employment and Social Services (CKESS) Division is well positioned to manage the proposed changes to social assistance and continue to serve vulnerable people in the community,” Smith said in a press release.

“CKESS already meets or exceeds all provincial targets and boasts one of the strongest employment programs in the province. Our ‘exits to employment’ is typically more than double the provincial average. Our homelessness programming is considered a ‘best- practice’ by other communities. ESS staff are very skilled and already preparing for service modernization and integration, both high priorities for the new provincial government. I recognize that I have taken on a huge responsibility but with this team, the groundwork completed by my predecessor, and community involvement, I feel confident that we can successfully tackle the challenges ahead.”

The Employment and Social Services Division delivers Ontario Works Assistance, homelessness prevention programming, employment programs, and a variety of supports to low income individuals and families in Chatham-Kent. Its mission is to provide services to increase wellness and reduce the effects of poverty for the people of Chatham-Kent.