South Lake Tahoe Library provides family support with new ‘Community Hub’ team | TahoeDailyTribune.com

South Lake Tahoe Library provides family support with new ‘Community Hub’ team

Early childhood literacy specialist Diana Lozano leads a song during programming for two- and three-year-olds at South Lake Tahoe Library.

A team of family engagement, literacy and health specialists is now based out of the South Lake Tahoe Library and providing support to community members.

A public health nurse, family engagement specialist, community health advocate, and early childhood literacy specialist make up the Hub 5 team, which is available to provide information on services ranging from mental health to housing. The Community Hub team is a collaboration between First 5 El Dorado, El Dorado County Library and El Dorado County Health and Human Services.

"Where do people go in our community that's safe, open to all, and there's no stigma attached to it? It's the library," said Katharine Miller, branch manager at the South Lake Tahoe Library. "People already come to the library, and if they can have easier access to those services when they get here, it removes some of those barriers, whether that's transportation or the stigma of having to go to county office."

The Hub program, which has teams in each of the five districts in El Dorado County, kicked off in the last fiscal year, but the team was not fully in place in South Lake Tahoe until this fall.

"The further the Hub program moves along, the more calls we're getting," said Miller. "We're getting calls on the phone from people, for example, who heard we could help them find jackets for their neighbor."

Leigh-Ellen Yarbrough, Hub 5's family engagement specialist, is one of the people responsible for connecting residents with that type of help.

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"I help families find resources in the community, so if they need help finding housing, food banks, anything they need help with," said Yarbrough. "I also do developmental screenings for children 5 and under. It's a parent questionnaire. We see if their child is on task or possibly delayed, then we refer out from there."

Yarbrough puts on play groups at the library, and in January, will begin one at Live Violence Free.

The Hub team's public health nurse Jessica Hernandez said that mental health is the biggest issue she encounters.

"The big one is mental health and destigmatizing accessing that, explaining what that experience is like, and eliminating gaps in services," said Hernandez. "For some people I was surprised to find that they had accessed the services before, so it's just reinforcing that and also supporting them with literature and things like that."

Diana Lozano, early childhood literacy specialist, has been at the library for five years. The addition of the other public health specialists to the team has helped her provide the families she works with easy access to additional resources.

"When I've recommended something to a parent and if they have any questions about their child's development I can go grab Leigh-Ellen, so it's nice to have a point of contact person in the same building," said Lozano, who puts on programming for different age groups throughout the week.

The implementation of the Hub 5 team is one step in a push to expand the library's reach in the community.

Thanks to a community fund from the late Jean and Steve Myers, the South Lake Tahoe Library is set to receive $150,000 in this fiscal year.

"We plan to use that to extend our services, which includes extending our hours and bringing on some additional staff to extend our reach not only within these walls, but outside these walls," said Miller.