JFS Provides Support, and Path Out, to Those in Poverty

Weir2010Poverty is an important and growing discussion topic in Cincinnati. Several recent reports have detailed concerns with the number of local children and families living in poverty.

I believe we have an important role in the discussion as the community comes together to address this topic. Most everything we do provides support to those living in poverty.

From our experience, someone doesn’t leap out of poverty. It is something that takes a long time, most times there are a lot of stops and starts along the way, and progress is incremental.

People living in poverty come from all demographics. Our programs are open to all – no one is excluded. Anyone meeting eligibility standards can obtain services and our goal is to work with them on a long-term path out of poverty.

Our food assistance program helps provide regular meals for more than 130,000 people a month. Our Medicaid program allows more than 225,000 people to afford monthly health care. Our cash assistance program helps 14,000 people pay for basic needs such as shelter or utilities and unexpected emergencies. Our child care program helps the parents of 25,000 children a year afford safe care so they can go to work, school or job training.

Nationally, the country’s child support program is considered one of the largest anti-poverty programs because assuring regular income to children helps pay for their basic needs. Locally, at least 250,000 benefit from this program – that is a third of all county residents.

And, of course, our workforce development program at the OhioMeansJobs Center helps more than 20,000 each year with job training and other services.

The dollars are significant. Our food program distributes about $194 million annually into the local economy, helping grocery stores and smaller markets provide jobs. Our cash assistance program provides another $31 million, while our child care program provides more than $100 million to local day care centers and homes. We collect $128 million annually in child support for local families.

Our largest program by far, dollar wise, is Medicaid. Last year, $1.6 billion came through our agency and went out to local hospitals and other medical care providers to help keep Hamilton County residents healthy.

These are all support programs that help those living at or near the poverty line ($24,250 for a family of four). We also have programs that help keep teenagers from falling into poverty. Our Kids in School Rule! Program and our Higher Education Mentoring Initiative our both designed to help foster children achieve a good education so they can earn incomes above the poverty level.

I am glad to see the recent attention to this issue and some of the local efforts hoping to assist those living in chronic poverty. We are happy to have a role in any discussions on this topic. Most importantly, we would love to see our numbers go dow

by Jane Prendergast

Filed Under: From the Director

Tagged: cash assistance, food assistance, food stamps, hamilton county department of job and family services, hamilton county job and family services, medicaid, moira weir, OhioMeansJobs, poverty, unemployment