May 2018

Meet Courtney
Courtney has many facets to her personality. She is quieter, yet enjoys spending time with others.
She is a good artist, plus she enjoys playing sports. Courtney enjoys the thrill of riding roller coasters high up in the air and the rush of driving 4-wheelers and go-carts on the ground.

She likes watching scary and funny movies. She listens to country and Christian hip-hop music.

Her favorite foods are pizza, chicken, apples, bananas and grapes. Her favorite activities are going skating, to the zoo and to the aquarium.

Courtney would like to be a K-9 police officer in the future. She is excited to find her forever family.

SNAP recipients have access to deep discounts 

With the weather warming outside and the children's museum set to reopen in a few days, it's a good time to remind SNAP recipients that there are discounts available to them for some of Cincinnati's most popular things to do:

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden offers a family membership for SNAP participants for $35 as well as other discounted tickets. 

Cincy Red Bike offers its GO Pass for just $5 for anyone with a SNAP card.

The Duke Energy Children's Museum at the  Cincinnati Museum Center offers free parking and $2 admission to the children's museum for SNAP participants. The museum has been closed while undergoing renovation, but is expected to reopen this weekend.

This month, we call attention to public assistance fraud, foster care

At HCJFS, the month of May is the time we join national efforts to call attention to two things:

In 2017, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services disbursed about $2.2 billion in SNAP food assistance, $238 million in Ohio Works First cash assistance and nearly $632 million in child care provider subsidies. Individuals who mislead caseworkers or provide false information on an application for benefits account for a very small percentage of the funding disbursed, but the department takes even the smallest fraud cases very seriously.

We also take the month to honor foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections. We join with child protective agencies across the country to reaffirm our mission to ensure a bright future for the more than 430,000 youth in foster care and we celebrate all those who make a meaningful difference in their lives.

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positive feedback

We received wonderful feedback in an email this week that I would like to share!

"Hello, I couldn't find anywhere else to submit this feedback but I REALLY wanted to. Hopefully this gets to the right person.

"D. Arlinghaus is the caseworker for my sister. My sister suffers from mental illness and I spend a lot of time trying to make sure she can get her medicine. I have contacted Ms. Arlinghaus several times with many questions and she has been AMAZING. We got my sister's Medicaid reactivated, which means my sister can get her medication.

"I know that a lot of times, what you guys do is a thankless and endless job. But I want you to know that I deeply appreciate you being so prompt, kind, and efficient with what you do. It affects our family in ways you do not see."

The email talks about the great work Danielle Arlinghaus, eligibility technician, did for a family she was serving. It not only highlights Danielle's work, but is serves as an example of the many wonderful things happening within our building on a daily basis.

We help our community residents every day! We help people in this community get medical care, access food, pay their rent and utilities and afford child care. We protect children and the elderly. We assist employers in finding and training employees, and we help the unemployed secure jobs. We make sure children receive the financial support they need to meet their basic needs.

Veteran attorney joins HCJFS executive team

Hamilton County Job and Family Services recently hired a veteran attorney to join its executive team and lead customer service improvement efforts.

Talia Bryan, customer complaint resolution administrator, will help ensure the agency is responsive to consumers and properly addresses complaints. She will root out trends in casework and consumer feedback to identify system improvements - all with an emphasis on equity and inclusion.

Bryan has deep experience in child protection and policy analysis, but her work will be agency wide. The job description is extensive, including investigating complaints brought against the agency, identifying protocols that are in place or need to be, and watching trends specific to cultural humility.

"We do a lot of great work in this agency, but sometimes that great work can get overshadowed with just one bad experience," said HCJFS Director Moira Weir. "I want a system that is responsive - even if you don't agree with a decision we make, I want you to walk away feeling were responsive and considered all you had to say. But this is about more than individual complaints - this is about looking at our program areas, our processes and our procedures and determining how we can be more responsive to the communities and people we serve."

A father's success story:
From unemployed to full custody of his kids

The father was "broken" when he reached out to the agency's Child Support division.
The 42-year-old father of three was unemployed, had a criminal conviction on his record and had failed to graduate from high school.
But he wanted to do right by his two young sons, ages 11 and 7. (He also has an adult daughter.)
He asked Child Support Enforcement Technician Albert Johnson for help.
"I went over his case and explained the importance of complying with his order and making an effort even while not employed," Johnson said. "The very next month, he made a partial payment and started to call me to keep me updated on his employment situation. Soon after his partial payment, he was able to have an income withholding processed and payments started to come in and are still coming. I was able to give him some encouragement by sharing some of my personal challenges with parenting time/custody."
Johnson also pointed the father in the direction of the Talbert House Fatherhood Project. The agency contracts with Talbert House to intervene early with fathers who have barriers to paying child support. Talbert House's Rickie Holt was able to help the father expunge his criminal record, obtain a GED and find a job. The father also attended and graduated from the Nurturing Fathers class, which provided him with parenting tools and a support group of fathers to help him on his path.
Encouraged by his progress and supported by his "fatherhood" network, he eventually sought custody of his sons. He felt they were missing too much school and didn't have secure housing. During a court hearing, the court magistrate asked him why he put in the time to get his GED at the age of 42. His answer was simple: "So I can be the best possible father I can be."
He eventually was granted full custody of his sons.

Thank you, Bike Lady

We usually thank The Bike Lady around the holidays when she generously donates hundreds of bikes to us to give our kids for Christmas.

But we just had to share this photo of Elijah, who just last week got the very last little boy's bike we had waiting in the stock room.

His face! He is so excited. 

Thanks to Elijah's caseworker, Kyle McCallister, for delivering the bike.

OMJ staff helps reconnect woman, son

In the middle of April, a  woman came into the OhioMeansJobs center seeking assistance. She explained that she had just come from South Carolina with $25 in her pocket and was currently staying with a friend.

She was very distraught and explained that she had left her son with relatives until she could get settled in Cincinnati. She was attempting to stay at a local shelter, but could not be admitted without an ID. She was directed to the Freestore Foodbank for assistance where she was issued a voucher for her ID.

She then found out she needed additional documentation. After two weeks she was finally able to secure an Ohio ID and able to enter a women's shelter. She came in and thanked the OMJ staff who assisted her and said she was on her way to bringing her son to Cincinnati. She said that without the help of OMJ staff, it would not have been possible.

The OhioMeansJobs center strives to assist our consumers in whatever manner we can within the boundaries of our capabilities. Our generous community partners are there time and again for all people seeking assistance.