EATON —The Preble County Commissioners met with Becky Sorrell of Job and Family Services and Jeff Centers of Children’s Services during a meeting on Wednesday, Dec 2.
Sorrell reported the agency remains busy as it averages 737 visitors per month, with 549 visitors seeking help with employment through the Ohio Means Jobs program.
Preble County also saw a slight increase in unemployment for the first time since July, as the unemployment rate increased from 4.1 percent to 4.2 percent for the month of October.
The United States unemployment rate for October was 4.8 percent as Mercer County continues to be lowest in Ohio at 2.8 percent.
During the month of October, 266 people received OWF cash assistance and 4515 received food assistance and the agency received 392 applications.
Some 9,761 residents received Medicaid during the month of October, a slight decrease from past months.
Sorrell stated since the expansion of Medicaid along with the Affordable Care Act, which went live in January of 2014, the department has seen a drastic increase in recipients.
Sorrell informed commissioners for the first time since the act opened, her department now has the ability to close cases. Sorrell said, “Hopefully there will continue to be a decrease; however we do not expect the drop to be significant.”
Sorrell also spoke to commissioners about a program entitled Comprehensive Case Management. According to her, the program is designed to help those receiving OWF cash assistance to becoming more self-sufficient.
Sorrell advised commissioners the program is not a good fit for Preble County, as the program will only serve those between the ages of 16 and 24, an age group Sorrell says her agency has no customers for cash assistance in.
Sorrell stated, “This program takes money from our already established work activity program to serve a very narrow group of recipients.”
Sorrell has informed the commissioners her agency completed all required tasks to bring additional money into the county to serve at-risk senior citizens in Preble County.
Sorrell also spoke about the possibility of a County Shared Service plan, which she described as “moving to the forefront,” stating the county will need to make a decision soon about joining the plan or waiting until it is required.
“Service to Preble County customers will not benefit by joining at this time, and in fact joining may create a backlog of work,” Sorrell said. “However if we wait to join, we may also lose out on some state money that could help with infrastructure that will be need in the future.”
No official decision has been made on moving to a shared services agreement between the state’s Job and Family Service departments and remains only a possibility.
The Preble County Commissioners meet every Monday and Wednesday, at 9 p.m. at the Preble County Courthouse. Meetings are open to the public.