The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, May 11, 2021 10:24 am

Verbatim: Grand Opening of CONNECT Allen County assembles more than a dozen critical resources at one location in Rudisill Plaza

First-of-its-kind ‘No Wrong Door’ access center brings ease and convenience to people seeking services

The following was released on Tuesday, May 11, 2021:

FORT WAYNE, IND. (May 11, 2021) – Today marked the Grand Opening for CONNECT Allen County, a one-stop community resource access center where individuals and families can meet with professional providers that are all located in one office on the lower level of Rudisill Plaza (201 E. Rudisill Ave.) in Fort Wayne.

“We call CONNECT a ‘No Wrong Door’ access center,” said Kylie Riecken, the Allen County System of Care (SOC) coordinator who led a committee representing Our Children Our Future, the Allen County System of Care partners, to create the one-stop resource location. “What that means is… whatever a person is in need of, they’ve come to the right place. We’re not going to tell them to go somewhere else. We have a strong focus in social, emotional and behavioral help, but we have an enormous network of other community organizations that we can refer people to as well.”

CONNECT is the first one-stop access site of its kind in Indiana. Thirteen professional providers have offices in the 6,000-square-foot space, to provide immediate, on-site assessments and begin offering support with services such as food, housing, employment, healthcare, counseling, family support and more. The CONNECT staff is bilingual in English and Spanish, plus they can quickly enlist the help of local organizations to assist with other languages.

David Mullins, president and CEO of Crossroad Child & Family Services, was on the planning committee for the CONNECT access center and has great insight into community needs. “We see quite a few barriers for access to care,” he said, “things like monetary and insurance issues, travel difficulties, stigmas in seeking services, and difficulty in finding providers that are best suited to the client’s needs. That’s why we’re excited about the CONNECT access center! Having several community partners in one location will break down many of these obstacles to care for local residents.”

What providers are located at CONNECT Allen County? 

  • Bienestar Sin Fronteras
  • Building a Stronger Family
  • Catholic Charities
  • Choices Coordinated Care Solutions, Inc.
  • Crossroad Child & Family Services, Inc.
  • Lutheran Social Services of Indiana
  • Journey Birth & Wellness
  • Made Strong Ministries
  • Meridian Health Services
  • The Otis R. Bowen Center
  • Parkview Behavioral Health Institute
  • The Rescue Mission
  • SCAN, Inc. 

Who can visit CONNECT Allen County?

CONNECT’s services are for anyone, regardless of age, race, income, employment status or ability to pay. 

How does CONNECT work?

When an individual or family arrives at the CONNECT office, they first meet with a bilingual Navigator who conducts a brief screening to identify the person’s needs and help pinpoint which services could be helpful. The Navigator helps identify providers who can help based on the person’s insurance, location, etc. CONNECT also has a clinician on staff who can help identify mental health needs and guide the person to services that will help.

Why is this access center needed?

For many Allen County residents, obtaining adequate food, housing and healthcare is a struggle. The following statistics about Allen County were listed in the 2018 Allen County, IN Vulnerable Populations Study, published by the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation*: 

  • 1 in 3 people live in a food desert
  • 51,830 residents are food insecure
  • 1 in 5 children are food insecure
  • In the 46806 neighborhood (where the CONNECT center is located),
  • 32 percent of adults and more than 50 percent of children live below the Federal Poverty Line
  • Nearly 40 percent of adults are uninsured
  • Over 50 percent of residents spend over 35 percent of their income on housing
  • 7,419 foreign-born individuals are uninsured
  • 34,724 residents (10.2%) speak languages other than English, nearly half of those less than “very well”
  • Many people in our community don’t know what help is available to them. They have no idea where to start. 

CONNECT provides one place that people can go for help, where they can get answers without getting the runaround. CONNECT providers help people get enrolled in whatever services and processes they need right away, so they can make the best decisions for their family. 

Who has CONNECT helped?

In just the first few weeks since opening, CONNECT has made the following impacts:

  • Connected people who are jobless with WorkOne.
  • Given 1-2 days of emergency groceries to people with nothing to eat, and then connected them to food vouchers and taken them to register for food stamps
  • Connected someone to applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapy for their child after being on a wait list for many months
  • Connected multiple people to mental health counseling, some with same-day appointments

The access center has been funded through grants from The Lutheran Foundation and the AWS Foundation, which cover the costs of the screening and assessment services for consumers. Tiered grant funding for the first three years will allow providers to initially work on-site at no cost, saving money as they make plans for future involvement.

CONNECT is conveniently located on the lower level of Rudisill Plaza, 201 E. Rudisill Ave., on the Citilink #5 bus line. It is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8am to 5pm, and Tuesday and Thursday from 10am to 7pm. For more information, visit, or call (260) 901-5480.

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