Declines In Assistance Cases Points Toward Better Economy In Fulton County

The transition of services to a new system run by the state of Ohio is going smoothly for the Fulton County Department of Jobs and Family Services.

The state has begun to transition its benefit programs to Ohio Benefits. Programs for families, Medicaid, the aged and blind have transitioned with food assistance and Cash on the waiting list.

Unlike some counties where the transition can be blamed for 66 percent of the backlog in cases, Fulton County has a strict policy to have all cases processed within 30 days, Director Amy Metz Simon said. That policy motivates the workers to keep their files up to date.

Metz Simon gave her annual report to the Board of County Commissioners Jan. 24.

While the number of Medicaid recipients dropped in 2016, overall cost of care rose 2 percent, she said.

The monthly average continued to drop with the 4th Quarter total at 7,536, down from the 3rd quarter’s 7,635. The agency peaked in the second quarter of 2015 with an average of 8,160.

Spending for Medicaid was $13,983,366 in the fourth quarter, that was up from the same period in 2015 ($13,177,269) and from the third quarter ($13,075,438). The peak was the second quarter of this year at $14,067,433.

Signs of an improving economy is evidenced as the number of food assistance recipients dropped to 2,914, down from 3,201 a year ago and from 2,971 in the last quarter. The number of recipients has fallen steadily since a peak of 4,094 in the first quarter of 2013.

The cost of the program was a little more than $932,000 for the quarter.

Cash assistance recipients are declining with the fourth quarter coming in at 88, the seventh consecutive quarter below 100. The total is the lowest in at least the last five years. The high was 121 in the second quarter of 2013.

The county handed out $58,000 in cash benefits through Ohio Work First.

The agency received 297 allegations of child abuse for the fourth quarter, but Metz Simon said follow-up investigations did not confirm that high number. She believes many of the allegations were multiple calls on the same case.

The agency spent $145,000 on board and care for the children in custody.

The department average 17.3 children in custody for the quarter. Currently there are 16 children in foster care and of those, seven have parents with an opiate addiction, Metz Simon said.

The department has collected $7 million in child support, a blend of enforcement and getting people released from jail jobs, Metz Simon said. The department collected $1.6 million alone in the fourth quarter.

The Workforce re-entry program has seen 21 of 33 people released from incarceration find jobs.

That works out to an 82 percent success rate, which surpassed the state average, she said.

The county department has done so well, the state has revised their target upward, making it more difficult to reach.

The county staff has collected $22,315 in fraud cases on food stamps, averaging about $1,000 per case. For the year, the office has collected $117,340 in 76 cases.

The agency paid out $40,663 last quarter for medical transportation. Many recipients had reached their maximum number of HMO-covered trips and needed help, Metz Simon said.

A look at annual numbers for Fulton County JFS:
Medicaid recipients – monthly average
Jan-March – 7882
April-June – 7812
July-Sept – 7635
Oct-Dec – 7536

Medicaid dollars
Jan-March – $13,947,877
April-June – $14,067,433
July-Sept – $13,075,438
Oct-Dec – $13,983,366

Food Assistance – Monthly Average
Jan-March – 3222
April-June – 3136
July-Sept – 2971
Oct-Dec – 2914

OWF Cash
Jan-March – 98
April-June – 90
July-Sept – 90
Oct-Dec – 88

Children services
Child abuse allegations
Jan-March – 243
April-June – 216
July-Sept – 247
Oct-Dec – 297

Children in custody
Jan-March – 11.3
April-June – 13.0
July-Sept – 15.0
Oct-Dec – 17.3

Board and care
Jan-March – $113,224
April-June – $103,027
July-Sept – $123,617
Oct-Dec – $145,192

Child support collections
Jan-March – $1,730,206
April-June – $1,698,427
July -Sept – $1,651,820
Oct-Dec – $1,624,480

Child care
Jan-March – $170,249
April-June – $176,730
July-Sept – $205,175
Oct-Dec – $192,050

Transportation
Jan-March – $26,047
April-June – $38,358
July-Sept – $29,794
Oct-Dec – $40,663

Childcare recipients (Monthly average)
Jan-March – 195
April-June – 194
July-Sept – 189
Oct-Dec – 178

James Pruitt may be reached at
publisher@thevillagereporter.com

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