JFS pledges support through COVID-19 Crisis

Dear JFS Family,

As our county struggles with the effects of COVID-19, JFS is doing everything it can to help. This is exactly why our agency exists. Throughout our nearly 75-year history, we have time and time again come through for Hamilton County residents during hard times. You can count on us to be with you today and in the coming weeks.

A lot remains fluid, and we are waiting for answers ourselves. Our programs are federal and state programs and we don’t have the power at the local level to change rules and regulations. We are consulting with both levels of government to discuss local needs and are hopeful for decisions that help.

For example, on the national level, the president and Congress are planning to expand health insurance and food assistance for the needy. These are our people and we are eager to help as fast as we can, but we don’t yet know what the expansion will look like. We ask for patience as these things are decided.

Still, we will help now in many ways. For example, we will protect children and the elderly. Our workers are vital to the safety of our county’s most vulnerable residents. Many have expressed to me their commitment to remain vigilant and protective through this crisis.  We are taking precautions, such as passing out hand sanitizer and gloves, as well as looking for other protective gear, but we will fulfill our role as public servants.  

In addition, residents facing hardships can tap into our assistance programs:

  • Food assistance, Medicaid, cash assistance: Those in emergency need of any of these services, should visit our website (hcjfs.org) for an application, call our office with questions or apply over the phone at 1-844-640-OHIO (6446).  You can get up-to-date information about your case and sign up for text message updates. This line has a virtual-hold option, so you don’t have to wait on hold, saving your place in line to receive a return call from our staff. If you are already receiving this assistance or in the pipeline, know we are working as quickly as possible to approve and recertify so no one goes without during this time.
  • Prevention, Retention and Contingency: This is an emergency assistance program for Hamilton County residents with custody of children. PRC is available to families with income under 200% of poverty ($43,440 for a family of 3). PRC money can pay for baby items, gas cards, bus passes, utility bills and more. Visit hcjfs.org or call 946-1000.

  • Child Care: We know this is a need with schools being closed. We do help people pay for child care. Applications take up to 30 days to process. I can tell you we are working overtime to ensure everyone is processed in three to five days. Also, even if you don’t need financial assistance, you can search for available providers on our website, hcjfs.org.

Gov. Mike DeWine urged all those doing business with JFS during the Covid-19 pandemic to conduct that business via phone, email or online. We are very fortunate we are set up to do most of our business that way. Again, visit our website or call our office.

We know libraries closed and many of our clients use their fax machines to fax in necessary documentation. We are working with community partners and asking other locations to allow the transfer of documents. We are also working on creating a drop box. if you can get to a fax machine, the numbers are: Main fax line: 513-946-1076 Child Care fax line: 513-946-1800. You can also send documents of any kind to this email address: hamiltoncountychildcare@jfs.ohio.gov. Also, all forms and applications are located here: https://www.hcjfs.org/forms/

We will be flexible on deadlines due to this hardship.But things will move faster if you have all needed verifications and documents.Once we receive the necessary paperwork, we will process your case as quickly as possible. I have authorized overtime to help that happen.

While in most ways we are conducting business as usual, we do have service changes to note:

  • We are now stationing workers at the front of the building toanswer client questions and allow document pick up and drop off, limiting the number of people moving throughout the building.
  • With schools closed, all Non-Emergency Transportation transports to and from school-based locations are discontinued. The JFS transportation team is working to proactively identify trips with a school address and submit changes to pick up and drop off locations. Also, all minor group transportation in the Non-Emergency Transportation program has been suspended from March 23, 2020, through April 3, 2020.
  • Please do business with JFS Child Support through the child support web portal: http://jfs.ohio.gov/Ocs/CustServWebPortalWelcome2.stm You can check your account, obtain a payment history and send messages to a Child Support Enforcement technician. In addition, the following changes have been made to the Child Support program:

    • Court and Administrative Hearings: Hamilton County courts have postponed all child support hearings for 30 days. At this time, state administrative hearings are still proceeding, but are being conducted over the phone. JFS will try to contact all scheduled clients to reschedule phone hearings. Anyone who appears for their administrative hearing will be seen in large meeting rooms to maintain appropriate social distancing.  Phone hearings will be in place for at least 30 days.

    • Genetic Testing: Genetic testing appointments will be postponed 30 days. JFS will contact all scheduled clients to reschedule genetic testing.  Those already scheduled who appear for their appointment will be seen if they do not wish to reschedule.

Despite these changes, I pledge we will successfully fulfill our role as public servants. We will protect children and the elderly, and we will ensure children and families get the financial, food and health care support they need. Just as we have for nearly 75 years, we will be a rock this community leans on in hard times.

Tim McCartney
Interim Director

by Jane Prendergast

Filed Under: Featured, News

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