Ocean County Social Service Department Address Backlog Issue [AUDIO]
Governor Christie first made mention of the backlog at the Ocean County Department of Social Services on "Ask the Governor" on September 27th, however the OCDHS acknowledges it has been an issue on their radar for a while now.
Nancy Faulkner, Assistant Administrative Supervisor of Income Maintenance with the Ocean County Board of Social Services , says one of the major issues they've been facing is the expansion of eligibility for qualified applicants which was enacted in 2010 and increased the department's workload by 100 percent.
"We've also had an unprecedented number of retirements from our agency. We have replaced these people with newer workers but of course they're less experience than those who have retired."
The department has also struggled to keep up in the face of a souring economy, Faulkner says people who have lost their jobs and run out of unemployment are seeking assistance for the first time.
"These aren't people who have in the past sought our services but they are now."
Faulkner suggests that anyone who is having trouble with claims should contact them via their email. She notes the email is checked and messages addressed daily.
"If we are aware of a hardship case we will expedite the case to the best of our ability."
Representatives from the State Department of Human Services say they have deployed trained state staff to the Lakewood and Toms River location and will provide technical and hands on assistance to staff. They add there will be a state presence in Ocean County until the offices are current. A long term plan to address operational needs is also being developed.
Faulkner says the issue of the backlog has been discussed with the state far before the Governor made his comments. She says there has been progress made over the past few months.