Hungry and Frustrated , Hey Los Angeles County: what gives?

Recently I became ill -( falling over in the office and having to be out of work for over a month kind of ill). On February 10th I had to take a leave from my job.

Absence meant I was without my usual paycheck and still had to pay for child care for my youngest daughter so I could spend several hours a week in medical offices. Being a single mother with successful and employed friends, day care remained my only option.  I still had housing expenses, medical co-payments, utilities, car insurance and gasoline as well as food and cell phone bills to pay. I have been living on credit card debt (before I had no debt, so there is a high interest cushion here ) and loans from my father.  As you know, I work as a social worker for an undisclosed county contracted company in the welfare services. My income is so low that saving is almost impossible and  I , like many of my coworkers, often qualify for the same services we refer clients to – such as WIC and Healthy Families type health insurance.

I took the time to apply for State Disability – I have not seen a dime. Eventually I received a notice that I was approved for a payment but it may go on a debit card and I should wait 5 more days for that to arrive. It has been over a week since then  and nothing has arrived.

I went to http://www.mendpoverty.org, where I volunteer,  on a Thursday in early March and tried applying for CalFresh and that weekend I broke out the internet and my document scanner to test drive the online DPSS portal I tell my clients about. I think I even said it was an emergency situation where we were about to run out of food.

Nada, Nothing, the only response I have from Los Angeles County Department of Public and Social Services has been several mailed notices of a PIN number for the online portal. I have not had a follow up phone call , voice mail, email, text message or paper notice. The online portal says “PENDING”. I scheduled an appointment to go to the DPSS office on Thursday, but I don’t have any sick time to keep the appointment.

There is a customer service phone number. It is a joke. Please, look up the phone number and call. The message you will hear, in English and Spanish, is that there is a second number now required to reach someone. I called the second number and spend 20 minutes listening to various phone ques and never reaching an actual person. Fortunately I am not on a limited cell phone minute plan as many low-income Los Angelinos are.

I have been back at work for two weeks now and I have not been paid in over a month. I had to return to work, there is no way I could remain housed if I stayed out and addressed my health. Child care tuition was due today and I did not have the money. I was hoping to qualify for some kind of assistance such as CCRC. Subsidized Child Care requires that i have an active DPSS case. I can’t have an active case until DPSS gets around to my application. I may not even qualify  – since a mythical Disability check is supposedly on it’s way for less than half of what my usual wage was.

I totally understand that there are rules and that the Los Angeles County Department of Public and Social Services has 30 days to evaluate an application – but please explain that to my child care worker or my family.

I am fortunate because I can borrow but many of the citizens of Los Angeles County can not. Who is providing oversight? I hope that the Board of Supervisors, whom I’ve experiences to be intellegent and highly effective, realize that this program has some serious flaws and that they address them soon. I will be happy to tell them about my experiences over lunch, but only if they are buying – I won’t be paid for a week.

 

I will not tell you where I work , only that I am a fan of the work I do and my coworkers are great. 

 

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One thought on “Hungry and Frustrated , Hey Los Angeles County: what gives?

  1. First of all when you really need services you don’t file by computer and wait. At the first sign of trouble get your ass into an actual dpss office and get the paperwork going. Be personable about it but go be in their face at the places that can help. Let them know in no uncertain terms that it’s a dire emergency and with no income nor savings that you and your child are about to starve and your landlord has no qualms about landing you on your ass with no roof over your heads. At the same time, cut expenses to the bone and start talking to some of those non govt. resources out there that help those who fall into such situations. It’s not that hard to get assistance with your utility bills as well as your monthly rent payment. other creditors and monthly bills can be dealt with quite efficiently by simply talking with the companies hat provide them. most cell phone plans for instance can be put on hold for instance where you pay a nominal fee of $8-10/mo for a term of suspended service. cell survive is a luxury not an entitlement and while cutting expenses one may just have to “suffer” a lack of luxury items while things are lean. As for child care, you may just get to tote the little one along where you go as it’s primarily your responsibility to provide. other than that, your current child care provider is just like any other creditor, and not likely verry smart as a business if you have up to now been a good customer and paid regularly and on time. the opportunity to continue the income provided by your contracted services at an incrimental cost much less that that which would eventually be paid makes a good case for continued services based upon an offer of credit. In the end, no matter what work the problem. You’ll get through it and things do get better. I know. I’ve been there!

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