LISBON - Columbiana County will be among 23 county welfare agencies that could benefit from a state grant to explore ways that public assistance applicants can send personal information from off-site locations.
The Ohio Development Services Agency announced last week a $100,000 grant had been issued to the Columbiana County Department of Job and Family Services (JFS), with the funding source being the Local Government Innovation Fund, which was established to award grants to government agencies looking for ways to deliver services more efficiently.
County JFS Director Eileen Dray-Bardon explained the local JFS served as the applicant on behalf of the other 22 because she is currently president of the Canton district of county JFS agencies.
She said the grant will fund a study to determine the feasibility of creating locations throughout the 23 counties where public assistance applicants can transmit follow-up personal information needed to complete the application process, instead of traveling to the main offices.
While initial public assistance applications can be made online, copies of additional personal information must be provided and there is currently no secure way to do that without coming in person to the JFS office in Lisbon.
Dray-Bardon said the idea is to set up user-friendly, self-serve scanner sites at locations where the JFS has a working relationship, such as food pantries, public libraries and local hospitals. Public assistance applicants would be able to go there and scan copies of their personal documents and transmit it to the JFS. This is not only more convenient but it would speed up the application process.
"The study is to see if we can make it simple enough that they do it themselves ... There's always a certain percentage of our clientele who cannot do this, but there is probably a whole lot who can," she said.