The Public Assistance Side of Tuscarawas County

There is a fallacy that has bred among communities regarding public assistance.

This article has been submitted by JFS staff members as part of an ongoing, exclusive partnership with 

The conception is that the programs are widely abused and that the only population that benefits from government aide are the lazy, weak few that cannot hold down a job, or rather, prefer not to hold down a job.

Tuscarawas County Job and Family Services hopes to dispel the misconceptions and put a new face on the public assistance recipient.
At any given point, every individual can be, and most are, faced with some form of disadvantage in life.

Job loss, poor or failing health, factory closings, increasing rent prices and so on…. The list can be plentiful and each of us could most likely contribute to the list by our own, personal experiences.
The fact is that most recipients of Public Assistance are hardworking families that are just trying to make ends meet or are in need of additional assistance to find employment.

During 2017, a monthly average of 5,477 individuals were known to our SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) eligibility system. This is the program that is formerly recognized as Food Assistance and is meant to supplement the family income to sustain the household meals over the course of a month. More than 41% of those SNAP recipients are employed, individuals. In addition, SNAP recipients that are not exempt from working and have no children under 18 in the home, are only eligible for three months of benefits in a thirty-six month period unless they obtain employment of at least part-time status.
Another commonly misunderstood program is cash assistance. The monthly cash assistance program is not as widely used as one may think. The traditional cash assistance program that provides income for unemployed families is not utilized as it once may have been. At any given point during the year, the county has anywhere from ten to fifteen families in receipt of cash assistance.

This program is time limited to thirty-six months of eligibility in a lifetime, for adults with children. Every month a check is issued, the family must be meeting the requirements of looking for employment, obtaining employable job skills, cooperating with establishing child support and otherwise attending some form of a training program. If these requirements are not met, the family loses eligibility for the program.

The most common type of cash assistance being received in our county is for children being cared for in the home of a grandparent or other specified relative. That specific cash program tends to assist around 200 children each year and is specifically for the needs of the child and not the adult caring for the child.

Much of the public is unaware that federal and state regulations strictly limit the amount of time a specific benefit may be received and that there are work requirements attached to most program eligibility for unemployed families. Many changes have taken place over the last twenty years to ensure that public assistance recipients are moving forward in the quest to become completely self-sufficient and independent from government support. That may include referrals for work and training programs or support services to assist families in overcoming barriers to employment.

Most of the support programs available are designed to assist applicants in obtaining or maintaining employment.
Anyone working hard to make ends meet that has been met with a hardship or is struggling to even find work most likely has graced the threshold of TCJFS and are most welcome. The important thing to remember is, the face of the public assistance recipient is the face of your family, friends, and neighbors.

We are all but one challenging life experience away from needing to reach out for help. The late actor, Robin Williams said “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind, always.”

As part of this exclusive series, in 2018 Tuscarawas County Job & Family Services will provide a monthly article that targets important issues affecting local parents and children. 

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