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Impact of Budget Cuts on County Welfare Offices

AnaloguhrIn an op-ed published today, Michael Froehlich and Julie Zaebst depict some of the issues budget cuts have caused in County Welfare Offices, particularly in Philadelphia.  Among the problems they cite:
  • Since 2002, the number of workers in the Department of Public Welfare has dropped by 13%, but caseloads have almost doubled in that time
  • Fewer than one in five calls to the Philadelphia Customer Service Center are being picked up
  • Almost one in six applications for food stamps are rejected due to lost documents or failure to make an appointment; however, Froehlich and Zaebst say that in their experience, "these rejections can often be attributed to documents misplaced by overwhelmed skeleton crews or to ineffectual "phone tag" between officials and applicants [busy with] work, child-care, and school schedules."
The programs offered by the Department of Public Welfare are meant to be ways that families can stay above water in the short-term while they look for family-sustaining jobs and/or get the education they need to qualify for those jobs.  No family wants to spend more time in these programs than they need to.  Yet, as the authors point out, "When low-income families must spend entire days at a welfare office waiting to see a caseworker or return several times to turn in the same piece of paper, it's time they're not spending at work, looking for work, going to school, or tending to their children."

Have you experienced long waits or problems in applying for programs? How have the budget cuts affected your family? Please let us know in the comments.

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