Temporary Assistance manages the Family Assistance Program and the Safety Net Program. These two programs provide temporary cash support to those who live below the poverty level. The Temporary Assistance unit also manages the federal Supplement Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) Program (formerly known as Food Stamp Program), child care subsidies and the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).
In 2016, the agency processed 4,601 Temporary Assistance applications, with a number of these being one-time only emergency payments or diversion payments. While an applicant may be eligible for a one-time payment, unemployment benefits put most families over the income threshold for ongoing Temporary Assistance. The ongoing Temporary Assistance caseload was comparable to 2015. The Non-Temporary Assistance SNAP (NPA-SNAP) caseload saw a slight decrease. This does not include individuals who receive SNAP attached to their SSI case. New SNAP applications decreased 7% from 2015 to 354 per month possibly a result from the improvement in the local economy.
The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) assists low-income families and individuals with their home energy costs. Individuals and families in receipt of Temporary Assistance automatically are eligible for a HEAP benefit. Individuals not in receipt of assistance must apply for the benefit. Over 6,665 HEAP, HEAP Emergency and Furnace Repair and Replacement payments were made in the last HEAP season. These payments totaled $2,186,581.00.
Moving employable clients into work continued to be a priority. Every adult identified as employable is referred to Workforce Development (WD) for assessment and assistance in obtaining work. The client, with an employment counselor, develops an employment plan that focuses on the goal of obtaining and maintaining work. Recipients are required to spend at least 30 hours per week working and/or in work activities. Work activities include job search, employment counseling, High School Equivalency classes, substance abuse treatment (if indicated) or assignment to a work site. Recipients who have reached their 60 month federal limit meet more often with staff. These meetings are intended to identify barriers to employment and help clients become employed.
As more clients become employed, our focus is shifting to the “hard-to-serve” individuals who remain on assistance. These individuals generally have multiple barriers to employment: low reading and/or math scores, low I.Q.s, learning disabilities, emotional or behavior problems, unidentified mental illness, physical limitations or lack of adequate social skills to maintain employment. In 2016, we continued to develop additional services tailored to meet the complex needs of this population.