Busy Times Lead to Request for Lobby Relief

We have never been busier in our public assistance programs.

Even when I talk to some of those who have been here much longer than my 17 years, they do not remember being this busy. We do not have records going back into the early 1980s and late 1970s, but I am fairly confident in saying that some of the numbers we are seeing today are records for this agency. We have 110,000 people in this county receiving food assistance. That is one in seven county residents. Even more — 135,000 — receive Medicaid. The economy has definitely taken its toll on this community.

Right now, about 56,000 people a month come through our doors at 222 E. Central Parkway. We will soon close our 237 William H. Taft Road office, so the numbers will increase. As you can imagine, it gets very crowded at times. I would like to solicit your help in alleviating this problem. We offer a number of alternatives to face-to-face visits at our downtown locations. Please help us spread the word about these alternatives:

— Quick answers to basic questions about our programs and services are available by visiting our Web site, www.hcjfs.org. There is a wealth of information about Medicaid, food assistance, cash assistance, child support, child care, child protection and other services, as well as commonly-used forms and applications for services at the site’s Online Service Center. There are also online calculators to help determine if someone qualifies for services. Customers can report a change to a case, ask a question or make a suggestion.

— Another way to do business with us is through a partnership with the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Residents who want to access our services can fax applications and verification forms (copies of birth certificates, divorce decrees, etc.) at any library branch.

— We also offer biweekly live chats on our Web site. Here, Hamilton County residents can ask a question and get an immediate response to inquiries about how programs work. They also can learn from answers to questions asked by others.

— Child Support provides private one-on-one chats from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays. Customers can access the chats from our Web site’s Child Support page and get quick, confidential answers to questions about their cases.

— We also provide presentations and informational tables for events and organizations through our Speakers Bureau. Our speakers can help with how to best access our services and answer basic questions about how the programs work. Those interested can request a speaker through our Speaker Request form under Contact Us on the Web site.

— In recent months, we have taken advantage of free social media platforms – Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, BlogTalkRadio – to help people better understand our programs and services. There are links on the home page of our Web site. This is another quick way to learn about our services and programs.

Please help spread the word about these other avenues for accessing JFS. It is not just a benefit to our agency, it saves residents a trip downtown, including gas money and the time they would spend in our increasingly long lines.

by Jim Tinker

Filed Under: Communication

Tagged: food stamps, medicaid, welfare