Public Info

Union County leading the way as the first county in the state with Social Service Interview Pods

Innovative COVID-19 Safety Measures, ADA Accessibility Aided by Federal Funding

commissioners in front of covid interview pod

The Union County Board of County Commissioners are pleased to announce that Union County became first county in the state to provide residents with interview pods, which have the ability to conduct interviews for public assistance via video conferencing,  in an isolated, sound proof, multi-functional enclosure.

commissioners in covid interview podThe new service is administered under the Department of Human Services, who received funding from the CARES Act from the State Department of Human Services’ Division of Family Development.

“Union County has been a pioneer in embracing and providing the most update technology and thanks to federal funding from the CARES Act, we are at the forefront in using these pods to provide essential services, all while keeping our residents safe,” said Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams. “I had a chance to take a tour of the pods, and I am happy to see we are meeting the needs of Union County families, the safest, best way we can.”

video conferenceUnion County Board of County Commissioners including Chair Rebecca Williams as well as Commissioners Sergio Granados, James Baker, Lourdes Leon and Kimberly Palmieri-Mouded, had a chance to recently tour the Social Services office and see these new pods in action.

“Being the first in the State of New Jersey to provide our residents and case workers with the ability to conduct interviews for public assistance via video conferencing is a great accomplishment,” said Commissioner Sergio Granados, liaison to the Human Services Advisory Council. “These pods are an innovative approach in assisting individuals or families with the services they need, while maintaining full privacy and discretion and maximizing public health safety measures for not only our clients, but our staff as well.”

The Department has as many as 20 interview pods, ranging from multiple sizes including a single person, family-size, and handicap-accessible. Upon entering the pod, clients are greeted by a case worker who is located in their own offices. The client is able to see and speak to a case worker, who in turn, is able to see and respond to the consumer via a CISCO DX-80 Monitor using WEBEX conferencing software. The pods have LED lighting and all of the air inside the pod is completely turned over to refresh every 70 to 100 seconds. As a result, each new user will be met with refreshed air every time they enter the pod.

While the current pods are located in the Social Services building at 342 Westminster Avenue in Elizabeth, they are fully mobile for use in multiple spaces. The Department of Human Services will also be transferring pods to their Plainfield location, located at 200 West Second Street, to assist the needs of residents on the other side of the County.

Union County is commencing the next phase of this innovative program, working with an ADA compliant hearing loop induction company to install infrared hearing links to transmit an assistive listening audio signals into the handicap accessible pods.