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Erie County social services to launch SNAP call center

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Fri, Sep 11th 2015 08:20 pm

Service allows SNAP recipients to expedite resolution of service issues

Erie County Department of Social Services Commissioner Al Dirschberger has announced the launch of a new supplemental nutrition assistance program ("SNAP") call center designed to help families on nutrition assistance to resolve service issues more quickly. Residents are now directed to call 716-858-7239 to get quick assistance with their SNAP case.

$41,609 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture was used to build the call center through the SNAP Process and Technology Improvement Grant fund. Process and Technology Improvement Grants are designed to improve the quality and efficiency of operations and processes within SNAP offices. These funds were used to buy equipment and train staff on its use.

"This enhanced service will aid in ensuring that SNAP recipients have the help they need when they need it," Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said. "It's another way that our social services department is proactively working in the community to quickly address issues."

"The majority of calls to SNAP are minor issues. Families want to change their address or ask a question about the program. In the past they would leave a message for an examiner and wait for a call back," Dirschberger said. "We're focusing on same-day service for these minor issues. The new SNAP call center will improve response times, and free other case managers up to concentrate on helping to enroll people in need."

The SNAP call center is designed to help individuals and families make and report changes or get questions answered about their existing cases without having to wait for callbacks. This initiative was undertaken to better meet customer demand at a higher level of service, placing examiners at a point of direct contact. Concentrating a segment of staff directly in the call center to respond to the needs of customers in real time will allow for reductions in application processing time.

Dirschberger added, "Building this call center was an opportunity to use state and federal money to improve our effectiveness here on the local level."

The SNAP call center goes live on Monday and will operate from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, except holidays. A Spanish language speaker and language line translation will be available for individuals and families in need of those services.

For more information on the Erie County Department of Social Services, visit http://www2.erie.gov/socialservices/. For more on the SNAP program in Erie County, visit http://www2.erie.gov/socialservices/index.php?q=SNAP.

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