MANATEE -- The Florida Department of Children and Families has opened a new office in The Colonades strip mall on Manatee Avenue East.
DCF opened its new Bradenton service center Monday at 2106 Manatee Ave. E., Bradenton.
The space, freshly painted and stocked with computer stations, is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Clients can go to the office to apply for food assistance, Medicaid and temporary cash assistance, said Natalie Harrell, a DCF spokeswoman.
Two employees were bustling around Monday, already helping people with applications.
DCF offers its benefits under a program called Automated Community Connection to Economic Self Sufficiency or ACCESS for short.
"We found that we needed a location in the community that would be easily accessible for people who live near by and for public transit," Harrell said. "Also, this new location is larger and can handle more clients."
For bus riders, the East Manatee Avenue location is on the MCAT Route 3 line, Harrell said.
The former office at 2004 43rd Ave. W., Bradenton closed Friday.
Some of the organizations sharing the strip mall on the south side of East Manatee Avenue include Healthcare Now, Victorious Life Christian Center and Definition Kick Karate Fitness.
DCF's opening day on Monday was marred when the air-conditioning failed to operate. Harrell said she would make sure it will be addressed.
In addition to the new office, clients can apply for ACCESS benefits at one of DCF's 15 ACCESS Community Partner locations open to the public throughout Manatee County, Harrell said.
To locate them, go to myflfamilies.com/AccessFlorida or call 2-1-1, Harrell added.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.