Aug 18, 2014

Editorial: Streamlining delivery of human services is critical for Ohio's poor. So is providing adaquate resources

An editorial from the Cleveland Plain Dealer states that Ohio's range of welfare programs resembles a row of silos. Each caches valuable services. But each stands alone. Both for welfare clients and Ohio's budget managers, that kind of architecture guarantees problems.

Now, an Ohio Office of Human Services Innovation, recently created by the General Assembly and backed by Gov. John Kasich, will aim to "break down [those] silos" to coordinate service delivery. ...

The legislature told the Human Services Innovation office to recommend by Jan. 1 how to better coordinate human services and achieve "standardizing and automating" eligibility screening. ...

As legislators debated the Innovation office, Athens County's Jack Frech, a veteran, respected county Jobs and Family Services administrator, testified that the goals given the Innovation office "are admirable," but that legislators should add one: "[Assuring] that the basic human needs are met for all Ohioans."

Legislators, to no one's surprise, didn't put that on the Innovation office's must-do list. But Frech's point is crucial: Smoothing service delivery is important, but having adequate services to deliver is, in the larger scheme of things, equally — arguably, more — critical.

Jul 28, 2014

Ohio employs nearly 2,400 in new welfare-to-work program

After a slow start, a $66 million state effort to help welfare recipients find jobs and move off public assistance is picking up steam, according to a recent article in the Columbus Dispatch.

Nearly 2,400 Ohioans found jobs through the Ohio Works Incentive Program during its first year, which ended on June 30. More than 90 percent of the placements were made in the past six months.
Roughly 19,700 adults who receive cash assistance can participate in the program. ...

The board serving Athens, Meigs and Perry counties found jobs for every one of its 156 program participants despite having some of the highest unemployment rates in Ohio. Most are employed in low-wage fast food and retail jobs, many of them part time.
Jack Frech, director of the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services, attributed the high placement rate on the decision to give all of its $272,500 in bonus money to the workers, providing further incentive to stay on the job.

“They need the money more than we do. They use it to keep a car on the road and feed their families, and we’ve found it to be a useful incentive,” Frech said.

Jul 23, 2014

Fewer people getting public assistance even as poverty rises

The Columbus Dispatch reports that despite rising poverty, the number of Ohioans receiving public assistance continues to drop, raising questions about how the state helps the poor.

A report released today by Policy Matters Ohio notes that those working in some of Ohio’s largest occupations – cashier, home health aide, food service – don’t make enough to support their families and escape poverty.

Public-assistance programs like subsidized child care, food stamps and cash assistance help stabilize low-wage workers and their families, but eligibility requirements have been restricted and enrollment reduced in recent years, according to the report.

Jul 18, 2014

Get help applying for Medicaid; enrollment clinic slated for Aug. 7

The statewide expansion of Medicaid has meant more low-income people are now eligible for the free medical services. To help more get the assistance they need with the sign-up process, we scheduled our next Medicaid Enrollment Clinic in the evening.

The Work Station, located at 70 N. Plains Road, The Plains, will host the clinic on Thursday, Aug. 7, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Work Station will only be open that evening for the clinic – all other services will be closed.

During the clinic, counselors and Affordable Care Act navigators from Ohio University's Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine will sit with applicants individually to help them complete the process either by paper or online.

This is the third in a series of enrollment clinics at The Work Station.

Unlike the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplace, the enrollment period for Medicaid is ongoing. Now, those between the ages of 19 and 64 with an annual household income at or below 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level may qualify for coverage. Anyone earning near this amount is encouraged to apply. Previously, Medicaid eligibility was limited to pregnant women, families with children, senior citizens and those with disabilities who met income guidelines.

Applying for benefits can be done online at benefits.ohio.gov. Paper applications are also available from the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services. For more information, call ACJFS at (740) 797-2523 or the area’s Healthcare Navigator at (740) 593-0828.

Walk-ins for the Aug. 7 Medicaid Enrollment Clinic will be seen as time permits. To guarantee an appointment, contact:

Justin Kendrick
ACA Navigator for SE Ohio
Grosvenor Hall 061, Athens, OH 45701
ACANavigator@Ohio.edu
(740) 593-0828

Jul 15, 2014

How the stress of too little income changes the way people think

Being poor is stressful. That's no big surprise.

In a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, 1 in 3 people making less than $20,000 a year said they'd experienced "a great deal of stress" in the previous month. And of those very stressed-out people, 70 percent said that money problems were to blame.

Scientists have long recognized that poverty can aggravate health problems. Now they're also beginning to understand that the stress of too little income actually changes the way people think.

How so? The reporter takes you into the life of Lauren Boria, a single mom from the Bronx in her early 30s.