Saturday, June 14, 2008

new timeliness nightmare.....changes

Now that local offices in Region 7 are responsible for their own SAVERR *and* TIERS cases, one thing that was left was changes.  Local offices were told that CCC (Customer Care Center) would still handle TIERS changes on cases.  Wonderful!  No way could local offices do that TOO, right?




See, what happens is client is in TIERS.  Cl has a loss of income, for example, and calls 2-1-1 to report this.  A task is generated and assigned to the CCC portal for completion.


a month goes by- nothing.


2 months go by- nothing.


Finally, client calls local office in frustration, and guess who then has to complete the change?  THE LOCAL OFFICE. 


This also usually generates supplements on the case.  Not for just one month either, mind you. 


Supplements, because of the inefficiency of TIERS- can sometimes be erroneously generated, therefore all cases that have any kind of "extra" benefits they are entitled to for a previous month, must be caseread first.  Oh but wait!  Not just caseread.  But approved through a process called a "second level review" which has to be done by a Program Manager (in some areas). 


If the second level doesn't get done the same day as submitted, the worker has to go in again the NEXT day and request it AGAIN.


Then, and ONLY then can a supplement be done.


CCC is not to blame, they are stacked unbelieveably with changes from across the state.


Who loses? 


The client.


And the local office.


Why the local office?


Because we usually don't hear about the problem until it's a HUGE problem, meaning someone has to stop doing interviews or their own work to work this change because it MUST BE DONE NOW.


A change that, while local offices would be overburdened if they had to take them all, could have been worked before 2 months later had we known about the problem TO BEGIN WITH.


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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Tenured Staff

Long time, no post.  Sorry about that.


I don't have an article this evening, but more of a rant/shout out.


You know, back in 2005 when the "jsap" thing happened, alot of people left the agency.  I don't blame them either, because you have to do what you have to do.


However, there are alot of us that did not leave.  We stuck it out.  Some of us stuck it out for personal reasons that had nothing to do with the "mission" of the agency.  Some were too close to retirement to jump ship.  Some of us actually enjoyed working for the agency and believed in what we did.  So we stayed.


In doing so, many "tenured" staff were put in a horrible position.  Being tenured, and being one of the few in some offices that were tenured (I'm talking 5+ years here)- we took on a lot of work.  We did more because we could.  We knew policy, we were fast and could get the job done.  However, as almost 3 years have passed- tenured staff are still bearing the brunt.  Unreasonable expectations.  Do it all.  Do it right now.  Do it timely.


QC was discussed at one point, and the error rate among those who are "tenured" has risen.  Is it any wonder?  It's not that those staff don't care, it's just that in a mess like the one the offices are STILL in, it's quantity over quality.  Do more.  Just get it done.  Don't care how tired you are.  Don't care if you are burnt out.  Oh look!  Here's some trainees that have a fast track in training- help them too.


Throw TIERS in the mix and it's a literal nightmare.  If you happen to be in an office that is now taking on their own TIERS cases in addition to the SAVERR cases, and are TIERS trained, you are getting SLAMMED.  I know.  I've seen it, know workers in lots of offices and they are seeing/feeling it too.


What is the solution?  Unfortunately, with the jsap mess that started this, offices are in a quandry.  On paper, they might be staffed or almost fully staffed.  However, when most of the "new" people are barely trained, then you have a problem.  How fast or slow do you schedule new people?  Throw them in there?  That's dangerous.  You not only risk QC errors and cases being worked correctly, but you also risk burning out new people early on before they have THEMSELVES invested in the job.  They leave.  Then the cycle starts all over again. 


What are the priorities?  Getting clients taken care of?  Doing reports?  Doing "busywork" that really has nothing to do with the business at hand?  Either upper management wants cases worked, or they want reports done (for example).  Which?  Surely "upper management" does NOT EXPECT staff to work until 9 or 10 each night?  That's the new fear among staff.  That while overtime is allowed, it's also becoming expected.  And if you do work overtime, chances are you are having to take time to document every case you touch after 5:00.  You have to justify your work now.  There is no more "honor system" because too many people abused the overtime and the pay from it, and now EVERYONE gets to pay for that.  I know one worker in a HUGE office that said it takes her close to 2 hours per week to do the logs for overtime each week.  TWO HOURS.  That's how many CASES that didn't get done?  Sometimes, that's ONE TIERS case. 


My point is that someone somewhere needs to realize something- the last thing "the powers that be" should want is to burn out the very staff that have stuck it out.  Forget that their employees are also moms, dads, husbands, wives, and caregivers.  We have families too.  We have obligations outside of work as well.  This is a JOB.  Not a "life" for us.  I certainly don't live and breathe the Food Stamp office.  It's a JOB.  I will certainly do my best and not ever change my work ethic.  But I know that I, along with many of those just like me in the field, am not willing to sacrifice my family and my personal obligations for a JOB. 


I'm sure someone reading will likely tell me to just quit the job then and go somewhere else.  And it's a valid reaction.  However, I believe in what I do everyday.  I'm not there just to pass the time each day.  I've invested many YEARS into this agency and have always produced top notch work.  I have the stats to prove it.  I've always done over and above what is expected of me.  The LEAST TPTB could do it recognize that and adjust accordingly.  Supervisors are strapped.  Worker IV's are strapped.  PM's are strapped.  


Does everyone realize who really pays for this?  Aside from our co-workers?  The clients do.  The taxpayers do.  The food banks do.  Other social service agencies do. 


We are not super-humans.  We are people who work at an agency designed to help people.  That's what we do.  All the field staff want is someone to take away some of the fluff until we can get back on our feet.  Seriously.  That's it.  Don't give me a certificate.  Don't even bother giving me performance leave.  It's not even like anyone can take off.  Taking 1-2 days off just throws workers further behind.  Take away something that, in the big scheme of things, doesn't have any affect on client services.  Let me do what I was hired to do.  Interview clients, and help them.  Finish cases.  Complete them correctly. 


I'm a caseworker.  It's what I do.

This post done through Yahoo! Mail. You can email me at Please know all emails are kept confidential, and your identity will never be disclosed.