DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The newest Ohio unemployment numbers show 35,000 initial claims were filed last week, but now people in the Miami Valley looking for a job have a new in-person resource.
The Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services continued to serve thousands of clients online and over the phone, despite being closed to in-person services.
Kevin Lavoie is the public information officer at JFS. He says, “This is our first face-to-face contact time since the pandemic started.”
Some key changes have been made for people applying for public assistance in Montgomery County. Safety measures are in place, a new door has been installed, and staffers will help scan in documents instead of everyone touching the same machines.
Lavoie says, “We are granting face-to-face appointments for people with extreme cases, people with very complicated cases, or say they can’t do business by phone or by computer. ” Online resources are still available. 13,000 new Medicaid customers were added online and over the phone since March 1, and 11,000 new food assistance customers were added.
But some services like child support hearings need to be held in person. Lavoie says, “We’ve staggered them and made extra time in between them to reclean the stations, the rooms where the hearings are held. So we’re being very careful.”
Problems with the unemployment benefits system have been rampant during the pandemic, but that system is operated by the state, not the county. Still, Montgomery County is able to provide job search help for applicants. Right now JFS is in regular contact with the health department about what additional steps should be taken, and how they will phase in more services depending on the evolution of the virus.
Lavoie says, “We really don’t know how things are going to change going forward. We’re just going to have to work closely with public health to consider how things are in the county before we consider reopening to a greater degree.”
Click here for more information about the services offered at JFS.