Since blogging is relatively new form of communication and many of the rules or protocols have not been constructed, we got a comment that deserves wider distribution. The Coalition is an advocacy organization and we hear from 4 or 5 people a day looking for help. This is not our primary role in the community, but there are so many people looking for help with housing that many spend the entire day on the phone trying to find help. So here is the comment:
"I am online looking for help for my niece. She has two kids and is going to be on the street. I was hoping for some information from anyone who has been in this situation. Her case worker never calls back and if you do here from someone they say she can not get help without having a job. She can not get a job because she has no one to watch the kids. It is hopeless. What should she do?"Answer: The first thing to do is use the First Call for Help database which is available online at www.211cleveland.org. This is a comprehensive database of all social services in the County. It is a wonderful resource that is regularly updated. First Call for Help is such an important resource in our community with their 24 hour telephone helpline, but also the on-line information. The second thing to do is go up the chain of command at the welfare (Jobs and Family Services) until someone responds. I hear this complaint a lot about case workers not responding. It never makes any sense to me how they have kicked off thousands and thousands of people from the welfare roles, and yet the case workers on County payroll will not respond. What are they doing? The County is getting the same amount of money from the Feds/State for a much smaller case load today. If your case manager will not respond to get your niece child care go to his or her boss. If the supervisor will not respond keep going up the chain until you get to Joe Ganntner the Director.
My main message would be that it is not hopeless. Please do not give up. So many people just give up and never get the benefits that they have a right to as tax payers in this County. Persistence is the key. Just keep calling, and keep showing up, and keep demanding an answer. Eventually, the system will respond usually in your favor just to get rid of you. PLEASE DON'T GIVE UP!!!
Finally, make sure that you vote and you tell your elected officials how disappointed you are in the social safety net. The County Commissioners administrative staff will take down messages or you can ask to talk at the end of the Commissioner meetings on Thursdays. We have a lousy economy locally so thousands are in the same place as your niece, but that is no excuse for the inability to find help. Good luck and keep on fighting.
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.