By: James Pruitt
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
Demand for services at the Fulton County Department of Jobs and Services remains steady, according to report on the first quarter of 2016.
Director Amy ¬Metz-Simon presented her report April 26 to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners. The numbers in her report show an ebb and flow of services, but overall a consistent demand from residents in need.
“We administer $66 million worth of benefits and handled 100,000 calls,” Metz-Simon said.
Medicaid recipients for the first quarter stood at 7,882, down from 7,990 in 4Q 2015 and 8,137 1Q 2015.
Medicaid dollars spending is on the rise at $13,947,877, up from $13.18 million last quarter and $13,111,666 a year ago.
The number of residents receiving food assistance was 3,222, down from 3,243 4Q 2015 and 3,474 1Q 2015. This indicates an improving economy; Metz-Simon says even though unemployment rose to 5.6 percent last month. The department’s high-water mark was 4,094 recipients in 1Q 2013.
The number of recipients of Ohio Work First cash was 98 in the first three months, up from 91 in the last quarter of 2015, but about the same as the first quarter of 2015 (101). This program supports people training or searching for jobs, Metz-Simon said.
Staff received 243 child abuse allegations which led to 92 investigations. Of these, 25.1 percent were for information and referrals; 6.6 percent for sexual abuse; 13.2 percent for physical abuse; 11.5 percent for emotional maltreatment; 0.4 percent for dependency and 5.8 percent for families in need of services.
“Fifty percent of cases have some connection with substance abuse,” Metz-Simon said.
The number of children in custody of the county was 11.3, a number that reflected a steady level over the past few quarters, but down sharply from 24.7 in the last three months of 2012. Bond and care was $113,224.
Bond and care dollars are steady as some kids are older and require a group home or residential care, which is extremely expensive, Metz-Simon said.
“We can spend $350 per day on some children,” Metz-Simon said. “We feel that is needed at times.”
Medicaid transports 26,047, down from 4Q 36828
The JFS is excelling at collecting child support and recently was honored by the state with the I-70 Achievement Award for being the best county exhibiting best practices meeting the extra goals set by the state, she said.
PRC-temporary assistance for needy families was $40,129 for the quarter and represented an emphasis on educational programming, Metz-Simon said. This includes renewing programs such as Baby Think It Over.
JFS staff told some high school students who toured the office they refer people to the job center constantly.
“(We tell them) there are options out there,” Metz-Simon said. “Start looking for work now when you’re in high school. Start planning ahead. It’s not ‘let’s graduate and then worry about that.’ Let’s focus on getting something in place.”
Commissioner Bill Rufenacht wanted Metz-Simon to bring back how the unemployment number for the county is going up when there are hundreds of job openings posted.
James Pruitt may be reached at