DCF to work with Vermont Legal Aid on improvements in economic benefits processing

first_imgThe Department for Children and Families has announced progress in its efforts to improve benefits processing, and its recent signing of a six month agreement with Vermont Legal Aid which outlines the plan for ongoing improvement. ‘The delays in benefits processing have been unacceptable. Through the hard work of staff, significant gains have already been made. This agreement lays out a pathway to finish the job over the next several months,’ said Steve Dale, outgoing Commissioner of DCF. Dale cited gains already made in the following areas:* Reduction of hold times in the call center from an average of over 12 minutes in mid-fall to under 1 minute this past week.* Simplified access to on-demand phone interviews.* Prevention of expiration of benefits due to departmental delays.* Timely processing of all Home Heating Assistance applications.* 25% of applicants successfully using the web.* Successful implementation of the Benefits Eligibility Ombudsman to resolve customer crises related to benefits approval delays. The recent agreement with Vermont Legal Aid builds on those gains and lays out a number of specific action steps, all geared toward improved customer service and achievement of consistent timely processing. Those include actions such as:* Eliminating the backlog of applications by the end of January, 2011.* Adding 20 additional benefits eligibility staff by February 1, 2011.* Shortening processing times by a series of changes in procedure and practice.* Assuring the Economic Services district offices can provide front-door application processing, excellent customer service, and eligibility determination for Reach Up clients.* Providing extensive staff training.* Tracking and processing requests for expedited 3SquaresVT by March 1, 2011* Improving notice procedures DCF and Vermont Legal Aid will continue to meet on a monthly basis over the next six months to be sure the plan is implemented and is having its desired effect. ‘DCF and Vermont Legal Aid share a common objective’assuring Vermonters have essential public benefits,’ said Commissioner Dale. ‘Our work together has created significant momentum toward resolution of this very important issue. I appreciate the constructive approach taken by Legal Aid throughout these discussions.’Source: Department for Children and Familieslast_img