Community offers assistance to Belmont youths

ST. CLAIRSVILLE A helping hand will go to Belmont County’s youths this winter.

County commissioners approved and signed two amendments to the Prevention, Retention and Contingency plan on behalf of the county DJFS for two one-time limited Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) special projects, vouchers to be used by Sept. 23, 2014 for the purposes of purchasing clothing for school children, needed household goods and other approved items, and to enable the purchase of clothes, shoes, coats and other essential items for children K-12.

DJFS Director Vince Gianangeli noted this was the first time since 2006 a School Clothes for Kids TANF program will be offered at the Ohio Valley Mall. A total of $525,000 of TANF funds will be available to serve up to 1,500 children with families that are at or below 150 percent of federal poverty levels. The program will be managed by the Public Assistance and Children Services units of the DJFS.

The Children Services unit will also run a TANF program to allow applicants to purchase items such as furniture, appliances, domestics, cleaning supplies, household items, personal hygiene items and baby items.

A total of $200,000 of TANF funds have been earmarked for the program.

“We’re reaching out to the most needy clients that we serve,” he said, adding that during the 2006 event they had 152 employees. Today there are 99 employees. “As we’ve gotten the state and federal cuts over the years, it has obviously impacted our wages and benefits and the number of employees we have on hand. There’ll be less people administering this program.”

Gianangeli noted that DJFS allocated an added 80 percent of TANF regular dollars during federal fiscal year 2014, allowing DJFS to serve needy families.

“These programs will be a huge lift to those families that desperately need our assistance,” he said. “Our workers are to be commended.”

Workers will spend additional hours determining eligibility of the recipients and administering the programs during September.

“I am absolutely thrilled that the Belmont County Department of Job and Family Services can again provide desperately-needed funds to help our children who need school clothes,” said Commissioner Mark Thomas. “I am also very happy to see that our Children’s Services unit will have monies available for its eligible participants to purchase daily household goods and items.”

“Nothing is more important to me than helping Belmont County’s children,” said Commissioner Ginny Favede, calling this an example of government working for the people. “I am pleased to know that the Belmont County Department of Job and Family Services is working hard to address these families.”

“It is a blessing to know that 1,500 of our children will be wearing new clothes to school, and our Children Services clients are receiving the necessary items for their homes. The funding is a great help to our families in this community and a boost to our local economy,” said Commissioner Matt Coffland.

In order to apply for the School Clothes for Kids program, families should contact their case manager or come to the agency for an application. All household income for the last 30 days must be submitted with the application. Verification of school enrollment may be needed if not already provided. The applications will be accepted Aug. 27-Sept. 8. The shopping dates at the mall are Sept. 22 and Sept. 23, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For those applying for the Children Services Program, case managers in that unit will be notifying clients of their eligibility for the household items.

For information or an application, call (740) 695-1075.

DeFrank can be reached at rdefrank@timesleaderonline.com.