Originally created 02/19/01

New DFCS applicants keep caseworkers busy



Cases closed by the welfare reform deadlines don't translate into a lighter load for Department of Family and Children Services workers.

As of Dec. 31, Richmond County DFCS had closed about 1,300 of the 1,634 cases that were originally scheduled to close at that time.

The cases still open include those of 153 people who received hardship waivers for three-month extensions and some who are among 324 welfare clients enrolled in the Goodworks job-training program.

The changes over the months have been guided by case managers, but even as the old cases have been filed away, new applicants are making new piles on caseworkers' desks, DFCS Director Carolyn Beard said.

"Each application that comes in has to go through a work-up and a process before it can be denied or approved, so it takes a lot of work of the project case manager to get that application worked up," Ms. Beard said.

In December, 283 people applied for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits, and 216 of those applications were approved. Since August, Richmond County DFCS has approved 1,201 new cases, which edges the current active caseload total up to 2,977.

"We have some who are further along the 48-month spectrum than others; each TANF customer has an employment service worker to help them come off the rolls," said Minnie Lamb, the department's economic support services program manager.

The application process is divvied up among 21 caseworkers called "peach workers" and about 60 eligibility counselors, each handling different phases of the process.

"We are shifting workers, and, although our TANF cases have gone down, our food-stamp cases are still there," Ms. Beard said.

Applicants whose monthly TANF stipend was cut off are still eligible for the Medicaid and food-stamp programs. Ms. Beard said caseworkers also work on those programs.

Reach Clarissa J. Walker at (706) 828-3851.

Recipients who will lose stipends

There are 541 adults in Richmond County who will lose their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families stipend this year.

January - 81

February - 61

March - 51

April - 41

May - 29

June - 27

July - 45

August - 41

September - 42

October - 45

November - 41

December - 37