Quicker recertification process for public assistance cases

Our agency takes another step forward in customer service this month.

Food and cash assistance recipients in Hamilton County can now sign their recertification papers with an audio signature, speeding the process of completing the application.

I know it comes as no surprise in this day and age when any business converts paperwork processes to the phone or online. We have been doing it for years in our various programs and will continue to do so at every opportunity we encounter.

I am familiar with other JFS operations throughout the state, and government agencies in general, and I feel as if our agency has been a leader in this area. In fact, when the state attempts to pilot new programs or technology, it often looks at Hamilton County to lead the way.

It is part of our vision to be innovative. Since 2009, we have won 16 National Association of Counties Achievement Awards for Innovation. That is more than any other government agency in Ohio.

In this instance, we are switching to a state telephone system to recertify Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cases and/or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cases. Ohio’s Enterprise telephone number, 1-844-640-6446, features an audio signature. This is a process where people can authorize, or “sign,” their paperwork by answering personal questions that only they would know.

Hamilton County processes 300 to 400 recertification applications a day. In many cases, we wait for paperwork to be filled out and signed before completing the application process. The number one reason why benefits remain pending is failure to return signed paperwork, which means Hamilton County resident have a break in services and could lose some of the crucial benefits they rely on to care for their families. We do not want that to happen, so we have made the process easier.

Another benefit of the new line: The new telephone line will also offer a “virtual hold” option that will allow applicants to hold their place in line if wait times exceed five minutes, receiving a call back in the order their call was received.

We plan to expand this beyond recertifications to new applications in the coming months. It is all part of the ongoing process to improve customer service.

by Jane Prendergast

Filed Under: From the Director

Tagged: food assistance, food stamps, hamilton county department of job and family services, hamilton county job and family services, innovation, moira weir, national association of counties, ohio works first, owf, snap, supplemental nutrition assistance program, tanf, temporary assitance to needy families