Hamilton County Stands Out in Child Support Collection

I am very proud of the work we do with Child Support collection. We have approximately 84,000 active child support cases, and we know there is at least a mother, father and one child on each case, so it is safe to say a third of Hamilton County’s 800,000 residents are involved in a child support case. 

We collected more than $130 million in child support last year, ranking first in the state for effectiveness among metropolitan counties. Cost effectiveness is calculated by dividing the amount collected by the number of workers who collected it. Hamilton County, which manages its 84,000 cases with only 43 child support technicians, also ranked second overall among all counties for collections per full-time worker.

The total collected is almost a half million dollars more than the previous year. This is the third straight year Hamilton County has been recognized as having the highest collections per full-time worker in the state.

Most importantly, the money we collect helps families. It puts a roof over a child’s head and food on the table. It pays the utility bills. It buys school clothes.

Excellent work, Child Support staff! You are helping make our community a better place to live.

 

 

 

 

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New Year’s Resolutions

In case you missed it, here is my latest column in Update, our community newsletter. It lays out some of our agency goals for 2014. If you are not an update Subscriber, here’s a link to the latest issue, where you can sign up to receive the monthly newsletter: http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/UpdateNew2014/January/Cover.htm

 

Like everyone else, I like to make New Year’s resolutions. There is no better time to take stock of your life and set new goals for yourself.

I do the same with our organization. While we are constantly looking at ways to improve how we serve the public, the annual turning of the calendar is a great time to publicize our plans for organizational improvement.

This year, the number one goal at JFS will be to improve the customer experience. We want to make the experience with us as quick and simple as possible. I realize that with the volume we serve – we serve more than half a million people in this community annually – “quick and simple” is a relative term. Still, I would like it to be less cumbersome.

Therefore, we will be working on doing all of the following:

  • Emphasizing answering/solving consumer contacts at the initial contact, thereby reducing the need for follow up contacts
  • Reducing hold times in our busy call center
  • Maintaining statewide metropolitan county leadership in food stamp timeliness and work participation rates
  • Matching or passing our next closest metropolitan county in Child Support incentive categories
  • Increasing our mobile/web presence, making it easier to conduct business with the agency
  • Increasing our social media presence to educate the public about JFS
  • Examining current-day best practices in customer service and implementing the best

Another major goal is to oversee the expansion of Medicaid and the implementation of the Ohio Integrated Eligibility System (the computer system used to process public assistance applications). The expansion of Medicaid is expected to add 42,000 more people to our caseloads, pushing us to over 200,000 recipients, which is one fourth of all county residents. These two projects together will take up much agency time and effort in 2014.

Finally, we are going to embark on an education campaign with the community that details the work we do and how we help this community. I worry sometimes that message gets lost. We are an agency that helps, whether it is protecting abused children and the elderly, ensuring children receive the financial support they deserve, providing a lifeline during times of trouble, assisting with the cost of child care so a parent can work or aiding in a job search. We do good work here and I want the public to know that.

That is our plan for 2014. Let’s make it a great year! 

 

Office Closing

Our office will be closed New Year’s Day and will reopen Thursday morning. Please have a safe and happy holiday. I am looking forward to 2014 and will detail some of our plans in a blog post later this week. It is going to be a great year!

Happy Holidays

Our offices will close at noon tomorrow and reopen Thursday morning. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.

We were very fortunate this year to have much support from the community. Toys for Tots once again donated hundreds of toys to our abused and neglected children. The U.S. Marine Corps Reserves does a fantastic job and helps so many people in this community and around the country.

Two churches, the Peoples Church in Clifton and Montgomery Community Church, held holiday parties for our children. It is so nice to be able to give them a sense of normalcy around the holidays and to see smiles on their faces!

Numerous other people donated gifts to our children. I wish I could name them all. The generosity of this community always amazes me.

Thank you and may your holidays be warm and filled with family and friends.

 

 

 

 

I came across this video and thought I would share. It shows, in a powerful way, the danger of leaving your children alone in a hot car, even for a few minutes.

A True Honor

I am extremely humbled and grateful for the recognition I received at last night’s Higher Education Mentoring Initiative’s holiday party. I can think of no greater honor that than to have my name attached to a scholarship that will help a young person achieve their dreams. Education is the foundation cornerstone to health, happiness and economic prosperity – three things, we can all agree, we wish for all of our teenagers, whether they are in foster care or not.

I think back to a few years ago when I read about a partnership in California between local colleges and the agency that serves foster children and how I thought to myself, “I wonder if we could do that here?” Now we know. The answer is, “Absolutely!” With hard work, dreams do become reality and this program is proof.

So many people worked to make HEMI what it is today – I give credit to Commissioner Hartmann, Rayma Waters, Greg Vehr, Annie Schellinger, Chris Bochenek and Tim Maloney from the Haile Foundation, Ron McSwain and many more – they turned my idea into reality. And the mentors and mentees – they are the real heroes behind HEMI’s success.

Just so it isn’t lost in all the hoopla, the program did have its first college graduate this year! Thank you Mariah Maxwell for persevering! You can see Mariah in the video, which was a total surprise to me, as was the $25,000 donation by the Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation. As I said, I am truly humbled and grateful.

 

 

Medicaid Expansion Launches Monday

Beginning Monday, more low-income Ohioans can apply for Medicaid, with coverage starting on or after January 1.

Now, families can earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level and still be eligible for Medcaid. That is $2,245 (gross) a month for a single mother of two or $2,708 a month for a family of four. We expect an additional 42,000 Hamilton County residents will be eligible. That is on top of our current caseload, which totals more than 175,000 county residents.

That is approximately one out of every four people in this county!

One key message: apply online! This is the fastest and easiest way to apply. I wrote about this subject in our Update Newsletter,  so you can find more detail here: http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/UpdateNew2013/December/Letter.htm

While you are there, become a subscriber!