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.