Welcome to Human Services!
Check out our recently-updated Human Services booklet!
Water Bill Assistance
“To assure the safety of our customers, to preserve their families, and to enhance the quality of their lives.”
Who Are We?
Venango County Human Services is a branch of county government that is managed by the Venango County Commissioners. It is directed by a Human Services Administrator who works with categorical and system directors and managers to ensure that a comprehensive continuum of high quality services is available to qualifying residents of Venango County. We are among the 30 counties in the Commonwealth that are part of the Human Services Block Grant. While the county continues to work within the regulatory parameters of the traditional categorical systems, our focus has been to move away from disability-oriented systems of care to a structure based on Life Stages. The stages include: Children and Families, Emerging Adults, Adults, and Older Adults.
This shift in focus to Life Stages has resulted in integrated service coordination and partnerships with non-traditional providers like community supports, the faith community, businesses, and more. Monitoring for service providers, evaluation, and quality improvement are all based on the Life Stage orientation as well. The main purpose of this change was to ensure individuals and families are safe and secure in the least restrictive setting. Through our successful integration, we have enabled county residents to heal, grow, and recover by receiving services that are demonstrated to be appropriate, cost effective, accessible, and that meet an assessed need.
Venango County Human Services directly manages the categorical systems that offer services for: Older Adults, Children and Youth, Mental Health and Development, Substance Abuse, and a variety of programs collectively managed by our Community Supports Services team (CSS). We also partner with Mercer and Crawford counties to directly manage the HealthChoices Program, under the auspices of the North West Behavioral Health Partnership, offering behavioral health services collaboratively between the three counties. Venango County contracts with a large number of community service organizations to provide prevention and treatment assistance to county residents.
Local Food Pantries
Many people in Venango County are struggling to put food on the table. We have compiled a list a resources that can be used to aid in receiving food.
1. WIC (Women, Infant, and Children) - provides supplemental food and nutrition education for pregnant and breastfeeding women who have given birth within the past six months and for children up to age 5. Shenango Valley Urban League, Inc. is the provider. Referrals can be made via WIC Venango or by calling 814-432-9892.
WIC Venango office hours are: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri - 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Weds 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
2. SNAP/Food Stamps - If eligible, you will be able to use your allocation at the grocery store to purchase your own food. Applications may be submitted online through COMPASS or by calling toll-free at 877-409-2421 or locally at 814-432-4341. SNAP is administered through Venango County Assistance Office located at 530 13th Street, Franklin, PA 16323.
County Assistance office hours are:
Mon to Fri - 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
3. Local Food Pantries - Food pantries in Venango County are provided through community members such as churches, social services organizations, food banks, and more. Many of these programs do have eligibility guidelines but have been adjusting to meet the needs of county residents. Second Harvest also has a food pantry locator if you need to find one that is closest to you. The links are below:
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
Words Matter. It can feel uncomfortable, and sometimes even scary, to talk about mental health and suicide prevention. By finding the courage within ourselves to engage in open discussions, we can help save lives. Here are some tips that may help when engaging in courageous conversations:
• Practice using nonjudgmental language when discussing suicide.
• Present suicide as a preventable event.
• When talking about a suicide death, utilize language that is sensitive to the grieving family.
• Use objective terms for suicidal events, such as “death by suicide” or “non-fatal attempt.”
• Avoid using the words "commit or complete suicide." The phrase "committed suicide" is usually associated with a sin or a crime, which suicide is neither. Using the words "completed suicide" conveys success or accomplishing something good, which suicide is not. The proper term for someone who has taken their own life is "died by suicide." Also acceptable is "killed him/her/theirself” or "took their own life.”
Here are a few other warning signs of suicide:
Suicidal behaviors are a psychiatric emergency. If you or a loved one starts to take any of these steps, seek immediate help from a health care provider or call 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline:
If you are unsure, a licensed mental health professional can help assess.
Research has found that 46% of people who die by suicide had a known mental health condition. Several other factors may put a person at risk of suicide, including but not limited to:
Support In A Crisis
When a suicide-related crisis occurs, friends and family are often caught off-guard, unprepared and unsure of what to do. The behaviors of a person experiencing a crisis can be unpredictable, changing dramatically without warning.
There are a few ways to approach a suicide-related crisis:
Like any other health emergency, it’s important to address a mental health crisis like suicide quickly and effectively. Unlike other health emergencies, mental health crises don’t have instructions or resources on how to help or what to expect (like the Heimlich Maneuver or CPR). That’s why NAMI created Navigating a Mental Health Crisis: A NAMI Resource Guide for Those Experiencing a Mental Health Emergency, so people experiencing mental health emergencies and their loved ones can have the answers and information they need when they need it.
If your friend or family member struggles with suicidal ideation day-to-day, let them know that they can talk with you about what they’re going through. Make sure that you adopt an open and compassionate mindset when they’re talking. Instead of “arguing” or trying to disprove any negative statements they make (“Your life isn’t that bad!”), try active listening techniques such as reflecting their feelings and summarizing their thoughts. This can help your loved one feel heard and validated.
Let them know that mental health professionals are trained to help people understand their feelings and improve mental wellness and resiliency. Psychotherapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, can help a person with thoughts of suicide recognize ineffective patterns of thinking and behavior, validate their feelings and learn positive coping skills. Suicidal thoughts are a symptom, just like any other — they can be treated, and they can improve over time.
Suicide is not the answer. There is hope.
Now in its 32nd year, Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those in recovery, just as we celebrate improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. Each September, Recovery Month works to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and community members across the nation who make recovery in all its forms possible.