At a time of year when we set aside a specific day — Labor Day — to celebrate the American worker, I would like to recognize the team of 800 people we have at JFS who work diligently on behalf of hundreds of thousands of Hamilton County residents.
Every day, our team helps Hamilton County families and children carve a path to a better tomorrow. Among the things we do on a daily basis:
- collecting child support to ensure a child’s needs are met
- protecting children or the elderly
- helping an employer find the workers she needs
- assisting a single mother with child care so she can work
- helping an unemployed father find work to support his family
- securing health insurance for someone who is sick
- helping a down-on-his-luck father feed his family
- transporting an elderly resident to a medical appointment
Not only does the JFS team help in many ways, but we do it better than most. Did you know Hamilton County JFS is considered one of the best of its kind in the state? We have the awards and numbers to support this statement.
Take Medicaid expansion, for example. To date, we have processed more than 30,000 expansion applications. That means at least 30,000 local residents are able to access health care. At some points during the expansion process, we had processed more applications than three or four other metropolitan counties combined.
The state of Ohio found us to be so much more efficient than other counties that officials both praised us in the media and asked us to help other counties improve their processing.
I can point to numerous examples of similar achievement. For nearly three years, we have led the state’s metropolitan counties in timely processing of food assistance applications. After becoming the first metropolitan county to have a monthly timeliness rate of above 90 percent, we have never fallen below that figure.
We are innovative, too. The National Association of Counties recently gave us two of seven total awards throughout the state of Ohio for innovative achievement. One was on our call-in model for food assistance re-applications, a change we made that has led to our consumers getting phone interviews in less than two minutes. The faster the interview and application processing, the faster they are able to feed their families.
There are others. We are regularly awarded for our child support collection efforts and we recently had a foster family and foster youth we work with on a regular basis receive statewide recognition for their efforts. And in the fraud prevention area, in the first half of this year alone, we reduced fraudulent benefits by $50,000 per month, or $600,000 per year.
If this sounds like bragging, it is. But not about the awards — about the people. The overwhelming majority of the 800 people who work at 222 E. Central Parkway (and its affiliate locations) are hard working and dedicated to making their community a better place. They got into this business because they want to help people.
I know we are not perfect. For example, callers trying to get through to our office still have to wait too long for help. We have prioritized other areas, but we are aware of our shortcomings and are working on solutions. We appreciate your patience.
I am proud of our team. We recognize that very few people who come to us actually want to do business with us. They are here because of a divorce or out-of-wedlock birth, or a child welfare issue or because they lost a job and are down on their luck, or a myriad of other unpleasant issues. They aren’t always in the best mood. But I have 800 people on my team who are willing to do everything they can so those people have a brighter tomorrow.