ATLANTA — The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) has made considerable improvements over the past year in the quality and timeliness of services it provides citizens seeking economic assistance through its Office of Family Independence (OFI) – achievements that Governor Nathan Deal praised in a recent letter to OFI staff. 

OFI, which is led by DFCS Deputy Director Jon Anderson, oversees eligibility programs, including Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, Child Care and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) - formerly referred to as Food Stamps.

“You have done an admirable job of improving these programs in a short amount of time,” Gov. Deal wrote.

In the letter to OFI staff, Deal highlighted the following improvements in the delivery of services:

  • In April 2016, 97 percent of SNAP recipients received their benefits in a timely manner, compared to just 77 percent in April 2015. “That is remarkable,” commented Deal.
  • The accuracy rate in processing SNAP applications has improved from 93.5 percent to better than 95 percent in one year’s time.
  • The timeliness rates for providing TANF are consistently above 95 percent, and OFI is close to achieving those same results in the Medicaid program.
  • Wait times for citizens phoning into the OFI Call Center have decreased from often exceeding six hours in 2014 and early 2015 to consistently being under one hour this year, with the average wait time being 15 minutes.

DFCS Director Bobby Cagle has made significant organizational changes aimed at improving the way OFI helps low income families since being appointed to the position by Gov. Deal in June 2014. He implemented the “One Caseworker, One Family” practice model to ensure that families are able to work with a single caseworker within their community throughout the process of applying for, receiving and/or renewing benefits. This approach enables local DFCS offices to focus on a family’s needs in a personalized and timely manner and to be accountable for the customer service they receive from start to finish. Previously, the eligibility process was centralized at the state level and required applicants to deal with multiple staff members, each responsible for just one portion of a case.

“The change has been well received by the local communities, and I applaud your efforts to improve customer service,” said Deal.