JFS takes lead

LISBON – The Columbiana County Department of Job and Family Services is again serving as a lead agency for a state grant to determine other ways JFSs in the region can share services to improve efficiency.

The Ohio Development Services Agency announced the JFS had been awarded a $100,000 grant from the state’s Local Government Innovation Fund, which was one of 26 grants or loans totaling $2.96 million that were issued. The program aims to improve efficiency among local governments by fostering innovation.

JFS Director Eileen Dray-Bardon said she served as the applicant on behalf of 22 other JFSs in the Canton district. She said this particular grant will be used to fund a study to determine the feasibility of developing a interconnected telephone system among the JFSs. The idea is to use the latest in call-center technology to develop a system that allows each JFS to handle the other’s calls should the need arise, such as during times when one agency is being inundated with calls.

“The benefit staffing-wise is when you have a busy call period the other county can take the call,” she said. The system would have automated functions allowing the JFS to track calls and log caller information.

This is the second such state grant the JFS has received on behalf of the other 22 JFSs. In December, Dray-Bardon said they were awarded a $100,000 Innovation grant to study the feasibility of creating locations in the counties where public assistance applicants can transmit by computer and scanner follow-up information needed to complete the application process instead of traveling to the main JFS office to do so.

The idea is locate these sites at existing public places, such as libraries, food pantries, local hospitals, etc. She said this study is still being performed.