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DSS Announces New Model for Service Delivery

Clients will be able to apply for services in multiple ways

Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services (DSS) Secretary Kristy Nichols today announced a plan to implement a new model of service delivery, which will no longer require clients to visit a physical office location to apply or receive information about DSS services.

"The demand for our services has increased over the past three years. For example, we have seen a 35 percent increase in the number of food stamp cases statewide from 2007 to 2010," Nichols said. "Our current office structure and business processes cannot continue to meet the needs of Louisiana residents. We must adapt to current and future budget pressures and the growing need of our clients and modernize our delivery system in order to sustain our services."

Nichols said DSS has 165 offices in parishes across the state with multiple office locations in many parishes. This costs the agency approximately $27.6 million annually in rent and leases alone.

"Currently, some clients must visit two or three different office locations to get the services and information they need from DSS. This wastes our clients' time and transportation resources and poses an unnecessary cost to taxpayers," said Nichols.

As part of DSS' new plan, the agency will consolidate 20 parish and regional offices. Following the consolidations, residents in these areas will have the option to conduct DSS business by phone or Internet without ever having to visit a physical office. Clients would also be able to visit another DSS office or utilize DSS community partner sites.

The offices that will be consolidated by July 1 are either family assistance or regional offices that have month-to-month leases, do not provide direct client services or are in close proximity to other DSS office locations in the same or adjacent parishes.

OFS Offices Consolidating by July 1:
If clients need to visit an office:
Bossier Parish OFS
2123 Shed Road, Bossier City
Bossier Parish DSS Office
3808 Kilpatrick Drive, Bossier City
DeSoto Parish OFS
405 Polk St., Mansfield
DeSoto Parish DSS Office
7356 Hwy. 509, Mansfield
Evangeline Parish OFS
116 SW Railroad Ave., Ste. B, Ville Platte
Evangeline Parish DSS Office
116 SW Railroad St., Ste A, Ville Platte
Grant Parish OFS
100 8th St., Colfax
Grant Parish DSS Office
602 Main St., Colfax
Jefferson Davis Parish OFS
742 E. Plaquemine St., Jennings
Jefferson Davis Parish DSS Office
107 North Cutting Ave., Jennings
Plaquemines Parish OFS
9567 Hwy. 23, Belle Chasse
West Jefferson OFS Office
2150 Westbank Expressway, Harvey
Pointe Coupee Parish OFS
120 Alamo St, New Roads
Pointe Coupee Parish DSS Office
1919 Hospital Rd., New Roads
Richland Parish OFS
117 Ellington Dr., Rayville
Exact location to be determined prior to consolidation
St. Martin Parish OFS
1109 S. Main, 1st Floor, St. Martinville
St. Martin Parish DSS Office
1109 S. Main, 2nd Floor, St. Martinville
St. Mary Parish OFS
604 2nd St., Franklin
Exact location to be determined prior to consolidation
Union Parish OFS
1117 Marion Hwy, Farmerville
Union Parish DSS Office
101 N. Main St., Farmerville
Vermilion Parish OFS
1829 Veterans Memorial Dr., Ste A, Abbeville
Vermilion Parish DSS Office
2729 Veterans Memorial Dr., Abbeville
West Baton Rouge Parish OFS
1622 Court St., Port Allen
East Baton Rouge - South OFS Office
1919 North Blvd., Baton Rouge

OFS Regional Offices Consolidating include:
Alexandria Regional
5419-B Jackson St., Alexandria
Does not provide direct client services
Lake Charles Regional
1 Lakeshore Dr., Ste 1450, Lake Charles
Does not provide direct client services
McKinley High Alumni OFS Center
1520 Thomas Delpit Dr, Baton Rouge
Does not provide direct client services
Monroe Regional
2808 Evangeline St., Monroe
Does not provide direct client services
Thibodeaux Regional
1440 Tiger Dr., Ste A., Thibodaux
Does not provide direct client services

OCS Regional Offices Consolidating include:
If clients need to visit an office:
Orleans Regional
1010 Common St., New Orleans
Provides limited direct client services
1450 Poydras, New Orleans
(Fall 2010)
Jefferson Regional
800 W. Commerce Rd., Harahan
Provides limited direct client services
1450 Poydras, New Orleans
(Fall 2010)

In addition to the 20 offices currently consolidating, LRS Offices that have already been consolidated due to mid-year budget reductions include:
Louisiana Rehabilitation Services (LRS) - Natchitoches area office
Northwest Rehabilitation Employment Assessment Program (REAP) - Shreveport
LRS - St. Mary area office
LRS -- Livingston area office

Nichols said that the focus of the agency's plan is on improving customer service and making it easier for clients to apply for the services by eliminating the need for clients to physically visit an office. DSS has already instated a phone interview process for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps), with plans for a call center and an online application to be active in late summer. Eventually clients will be able to access their case records electronically. Through these three main service points, clients will be able to access services by phone or from any computer with Internet access.

To supplement this service delivery model, DSS is partnering with local community organizations that serve similar client populations. The purpose of the Community Partnership Initiative is to create a collaborative network of regional and community organizations that can assist clients with varying levels of support, from simply providing information about DSS services to guiding clients through the application process.

There are many different ways in which community organizations can choose to partner with DSS. A community partner may choose to be a self-service point of access or an assisted point of access. Self-service sites will provide basic information regarding DSS Services, access to equipment such as Internet capable computers, telephones, fax machines, printers or scanners. Alternately, community partners may choose to provide a higher level of service including confidential space for customers to complete the application for benefits. They also may encourage or assist clients in filing of the online application for benefits. In each case, it is up to the community partner to decide which level of service they would like to provide.

Community partners will not determine eligibility for DSS program benefits. DSS will continue to be responsible for processing all applications completed at a community partner site. This includes interviewing the applicant, determining eligibility for benefits, and notifying applicants of the decision.

Ultimately, DSS' new model of service delivery will include a statewide network of community partners, satellite offices, other state agency offices, roving workers, DSS District Service Centers and access via phone and Internet, which will provide multiple options for accessing services within each community to meet the individual needs of clients.

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