I’m now a blogger!

I am not normally a talkative person, nor do I necessarily believe people care to know what I think. But this is a critical time at Job and Family Services and I feel very strongly that we should be as open and accountable as possible. Thus, I am becoming a blogger.

Thankfully, I have people to help me with this. My technology skills are basic at best, but I hope to learn as I go. Please have patience and feel free to let me know how I might improve.

The most important thing to me about this blog is being able to connect with you. We serve hundreds of thousands of county residents every year and I want to make sure you get the information you need. And I want to hear about your experiences and ideas. Please consider this a two-way communication vehicle. Much of what we do is confidential, so there will be things I cannot talk about, and I certainly will not be able to solve all problems, but open dialogue should help clear up confusion around many issues.

For those of you who do not know about our department, we are the agency responsible for local child protection, elderly protection, child care, child support enforcement, workforce development, cash assistance, food stamp disbursement and Medicaid disbursement and even more. We are an agency that helps. We are the largest provider of food assistance, medical assistance, child care help, employment services and other services in Southwest Ohio.

And the news of this post – unfortunate as it is — is that the economy continues to drive up the number of people walking through our doors. There are 13,000 more people receiving food assistance right now than a year ago. That’s 93,000; one out of every nine Hamilton County residents. And most of them are working; they are just not earning enough to make ends meet.

Our Medicaid numbers, child care assistance numbers, cash assistance numbers…they are all at high levels, too. More people are seeking modifications to child support orders because they have had changes in their employment circumstances. Our Workforce Development area is extremely busy as people fall out of work and look for help getting back on their feet.

So, you can see, this is a critical time for us and it is extremely important that we do all we can to communicate with the residents of this county about how we can help. Thus, I am now a blogger! Go easy on me and please cut me some slack.

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13 Responses

  1. Unfortunately, we cannot arrange for a free PO Box. However, if you are homeless, you can pick up your JFS-related mail here. Please contact your caseworker. Thanks.

  2. How can I. Get a p.o box for free to get my benefits

  3. We will contact you Larry and see how we can help.

  4. Frustrated at trying to reach anyone at 946-1000 to ask a question.I’m about to take in my 3 juvenile grandchildren, under the rules am I entitled to receive assistance?

  5. Thanks for the question, Carrie. We do have more than 25 Benefit Bank sites spread throughout Hamilton County. They do important screening for us, which relieves our crowded lobbies. But they do not replace the face-to-face interviews, phone interviews and/or documentation-review requirements necessary for approvals. These are still a necessary part of the process, here and throughout the state. We are currently doing as you recommend and looking at how others are utilizing the Benefit Bank to see if ideas can be initiated here.

    Also, we do have staff at SuperJobs and applications available, but it is not currently a fully-equipped substation, such as the one we have out at the Council on Aging. Its proximity to our downtown office is probably the main reason, but your idea is a valid one that we are going to discuss it. Thanks!
    –Moira

  6. Thanks for the question, Fred. We are always looking for new partnerships in the best interest of those we serve. In fact, just last week I joined with individuals from 60 other organizations at the Community Action Agency to discuss battling poverty in this community. We also are ongoing partners in the United Way poverty workgroup.

    We have more than 500 contracts with various private partners, many of whom are faith-based organizations, such as St Aloysius Orphanage, St Joseph Orphanage, My Brothers Keeper, Isaiah’s Place and the Christian Children’s Home of Ohio. We also have more than 25 Benefit Bank sites in Hamilton County, many of which are located in faith-based organizations.

    The bottom line is that we seek to be the center of a collaborative community effort that tackles many of the pressing social issues facing Hamilton County residents.
    –Moira

  7. Moira, is there a station set up at the Workforce office for people to apply for various types of assistance (food stamps, medicaid, day care vouchers, welfare, emergency assistance, etc.)? I think having someone at each office authorized to accept and immediately process applicants would be a big help for those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, have bills they can’t pay due to the loss of income, maybe even be a preventive measure against foreclosures.

    Also, with the staff cuts – my guess is the workers are working their tails off. Has anyone made an effort to recruit churchs and other organizations (YMCA, recreation centers, churches, township administration offices, etc. ) to serve as “auxillary” offices or, even better, to set up “benefit banks”? Up north, they are really utilizing the benefit bank program and the fact that volunteers/workers there are “authorized representatives” of clients/applicants allows JFS staff to conduct an interview for 10+ clients in one appointment, freeing up overworked staff.

    I’d like to see this happen here.

  8. Welcoem to blogsphere.

    A question about your administration. This is in regards to workforce development and cash [IDA] assistance.

    How do you plan to enter into public private and or faith based partnerships with your agency, with a goal of putting people in Hamilton County to work and increasing their standards of living.

  9. This is great that you took the time to learn how to connect with your associates and customers in a different way. I would hope this is not the end…there are many suggestions that have been made on how to improve the consumer experience and it would be nice for the same amount of effort to be taken to improve the consumer experience which could then make this a better place to work for employees. It appears that you are open to try something new, especially with you starting this blog, I would just encourage the other leaders that you work with to feel the same way.

  10. Ahhh, looks like Moira was ahead of the game on the moderation. Obviously she’s a little modest on the lack of technology knowledge. lol

  11. Well, good luck Moira. It’s going to be a bumpy road – there are alot of people in the community who are just now learning in these economic times what struggling and real sacrifice is all about when you’re “down and out.”

    I applaud your effort to reach out to the general community and clients to inform them of the programs that can help them through these difficult and challenging times. I think it will be equally difficult for your office to monitor the commentary that is based on ignorance and vengefulness. Also, desperate people may attempt to provide you with inappropriate and personal information via the site (I suggest you make sure this a “monitored” blog which allows you to read, but not publicize the opinions of all posters and allows you to screen for private information erroneously “blogged”)

    Good luck.

  12. Welcome to the blogosphere. It will be interesting to see just how your challenges of rising demands and shrinking resources are met. I think you’ll find transparency somewhat therapeutic, and even hopefully helpful.

  13. I think this is great…it is the thought that counts and it is nice that you are still continuing to reach out to us, above and beyond the town meetings). Thanks for being willing to learn something new to help us out and keep us informed as well.

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