The mainframe computer system underpinning operations at the state Department of Social Services is so old, there are few people left who know how to fix it. It’s been blamed for stymieing the agency’s ability to handle programs that serve nearly 1 million people. As its replacement launches in part of the state today, officials say some growing pains are expected.
It took an average of 54 minutes for callers to reach a Department of Social Services worker by phone last month. That’s an improvement over February’s 70-minute average, and one of the lower average monthly wait times in the past year. But client advocates say it’s long past time things be improved in the phone system, which launched in July 2013 as part of a highly touted “modernization” initiative.
Nearly two thirds of callers who wanted to speak to a worker at the state Department of Social Services hung up before getting through, but that, too, was an improvement over previous months. In September, 64 percent of callers who wanted to reach a worker hung up first, compared to 71 percent in August and 75 percent in July.
More than a year after the state Department of Social Services changed its phone system, people who rely on it say it remains unacceptably difficult to reach a worker. Last month, callers looking to speak to a person waited on hold an average of 78 minutes. And 71 percent hung up first.
Callers who wanted to talk to a Department of Social Services worker by phone last month had to wait an average of 39 minutes and 29 seconds to do so. That’s down from one hour and 13 minutes in February. Social service officials say that’s progress, but client advocates say another figure gives more cause for concern.
Even though Pamela Brown twice sent in the paperwork needed to maintain her family’s Medicaid benefits, she ended up uninsured. That meant she had to pay out-of-pocket for her 3-year-old daughter’s flu shot last month (needed for day care) and, for a time, went without her thyroid medication because she couldn’t afford both the prescription […]
Glenda Perez said she’d already sent in the paperwork needed to maintain her food stamps when she got a notice last month saying they were being discontinued. She called the state Department of Social Services, using the single phone number that everyone in the state who wants to reach a worker is supposed to use. […]