Food Assistance Change Coming

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If you receive food assistance from our agency — and one in six in the county do — you’ll need to know about an important change coming to the program.

Beginning Friday, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is changing the time frame for dispersing benefits. Previously, all 140,000 Hamilton County residents received their food benefits, loaded to their Ohio Directional Card, within the first 10 days the month. Going forward, the benefits will be dispersed over a 20-day period.

To be clear, this only affects new recipients, people who had a break in eligibility or people who move. If you are a current recipient and do not move or have a break in your eligibility, you will continue receiving your benefits on your designated day. (The exact day is determined by the last digit in your case number and that will remain the protocol in the new system.)

But if you were to lose eligibility for even a short time, or move, you might have to wait longer than 30 days for your next round of assistance to load. For example, if you previously received your benefits on the first day of the month, when you re-enroll, you may find that you have now been assigned the 20th day of the month for your card to load. So you might go as long as 50 days — instead of the normal 30 — in between loads on your card.

This would only be a problem for the first month back. After that, you would be back on a regular schedule.

Why the change? Grocers for some time have said a longer window for dispersing benefits would help them be able to staff more evenly throughout the month and to be able to keep a more steady supply of quality food.

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Food Assistance Amounts Will Change in November

Just a friendly reminder that the 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary boost to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits ended today and Hamilton County food assistance recipients will see a reduction in their monthly allotment.

The amount of your reduction will vary depending on family size and such. For example, a family of four will lose about $36 a month. Please visit our website for more detail: http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/Demo/services/foodstamps/FSReduction.htm

Families were receiving the extra amount as part of a stimulus package the federal government put together in the face of a faltering economy.  Likewise, the decision was made at the federal level to stop the extra payments.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.

A Thank You to This Agency’s Important Partners

For my most recent column in Update, our community e-newsletter, I expanded on my last blog post. My goal was to thank all of those who partner with us and ask nothing in return. I could not mention everyone, but I picked some of our most prominent partners, who really help us provide services that make this community a better place to live.

Also, check out some of the other stories in the newsletter, which comes out monthly. We would love to have you as a subscriber.

Thank you!

http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/UpdateNew2013/February/Cover.htm

Closed for MLK Day

Our offices will be closed Monday for Martin Luther King Day. We will open again on Tuesday. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend.

Special Edition of Update Tells You How to do Business with Us

We produced a special edition of our Update community newsletter that details the best and fastest ways to do business with us. You can also read my column on our renewed commitment to customer service.

Here’s the link. While you are there, please sign up to regularly receive our newsletter via email.

http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/UpdateNew2013/January/Letter.htm

Retiring Employees will be Missed

Changes in the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System will result in the retirement of more employees than usual this year. Come Dec. 31, we will have lost more than a dozen employees with a combined total of about 400 years of service.

They will be difficult to replace. We have others who are eager to fill the void, but anytime you lose that kind of experience, it takes a toll on a business. We will work hard to ensure the transitions are seamless to the public and service is not impacted.

Many of the people who are leaving are dedicated public servants who gave more than 30 years of their lives to serving Hamilton County residents. I am extremely grateful for their commitment and proud to have served along side them.

They will be missed.

Operational Changes

Just a reminder on a couple of changes hitting our agency this week:

  • Effective today, the Child Support cashier’s window has moved from 800 Broadway to the third floor of our main building, 222 E. Central Parkway. With the number of people who pay at the window dropping because of online payments, we can easily absorb the traffic at our main location, which is only a few blocks away.
  • Effective Thursday, the agency will have will have new phone hours and office hours to better serve customers and provide more consistency. By moving to 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, we can increase the number of workers here during peak hours.

Thank you for your cooperation!

Rising Number of Food Assistance Recipients Grabbing Attention

Did you know one in six Hamilton County residents now receives food assistance? Hopefully, if you follow our agency, you do. We have made a point of keeping people educated on this growing trend. The Cincinnati Enquirer published an article recently that brought it to the attention of many others.

I talk about it in this month’s issue of Update, our community newsletter. Check it out here, along with stories about child support visits, an adoption luau and other topics. Thanks for reading!

Keeping Good Company

Cincy Magazine has named me a finalist for the Athena Award and I am very honored to be in the company of a great group of women who have been recognized for their professional excellence. 

The award recognizes women who have “achieved professional excellence, given back to their communities and created leadership opportunities for other women in the Tristate.” I am grateful to be among the chosen, some of whom I have worked with in the past. Here’s the official list:

  • Debbie Bowman, CFO & COO, Cincinnati Art Museum
  • Karen Mueller, Executive Vice President, HORAN
  • Barb Rinto, Director, University of Cincinnati Women’s Center
  • Zeinab Schwen, Founder and President, Strategic Regulatory Consulting
  • Dr. Tracey Skale, Chief Medical Officer, Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services
  • Marjorie Solomon, Director, Ohio River Valley Women’s Business Council
  • Litsa Spanos, President and Owner, Art Design Consultants, Inc.
  • Elaine Suess, President, Beyondbeing LLC
  • Charlene Ventura, President and CEO, YWCA of Greater Cincinnati
  • Moira Weir, Director, Hamilton County Job & Family Services
  • Rebecca Wilber, Owner, CTI Restaurants

Many of the families we help here at Job and Family Services are headed by single mothers. Whether we are helping them collect their child support, providing them child care assistance so they can go to work or helping them find a job that will lead to a more successful life, I believe the work we are doing puts them all in a better place.

More than twenty years ago, I became a Big Sister to a Delaware teenager. That experience led me to leave a career in business to pursue my social work degree and help people who are struggling. I am proud to still be doing that work today.

Each of the finalists — in their own way — is making this community a better place to live. That is a great team to be on! 

 

 

Quite a Transformation in Five Years

Five years ago this month, I became the director at Hamilton County Job and Family Services.

It has been a very challenging five years. Budget cuts reduced our operating budget in half, forcing us to reduce, cut or transition positions, contracts and services. I was prepared for the normal challenges of leadership and the tough decisions, but no one predicted the severe budget cuts that would completely transform this agency.

We have not only survived, we have put this agency in a position to thrive in an era with reduced tax revenue. It has been an incredible transformation, but we continue to be a model for other JFS organizations in this state in many of our core areas. I am very proud of the way our employees responded to this challenge.

If you would like to read more about the past five years, please check out the Q&A interview I did in this month’s Update newsletter. You can find it here:

http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/UpdateNew2012/July/Cover.htm

Simply put, I could not have survived five years without the incredible support of our employees, our partners, the Board of County Commissioners and many other people in this community.

Thank you.