State Hopeful New System Will Improve Process for Social Service Recipients

The state Department of Social Services tried to bring legislators up to date this morning on its new phone system, hoping the ImpaCT system will mean just that – impact – for clients who now have to wait on the phone to get through to DSS for hours.

“Four or five hours,” said Lucy Potter, an attorney with Greater Hartford Legal Aid who watched the presentation. "I've had clients who've called repeatedly, waiting 20 minutes at a time and just giving up, not realizing you really do have to wait over an hour, often."

DSS provides food stamps and Medicaid to residents in need of them.

The DSS officials at the presentation admitted the present system has troubles. Commissioner Roderick Bremby even told the forum he has identified the "root cause."

"That is, the notices that the system provides are old. They're not easily read or understood. Once people get those notices, we see a spike in the number of calls coming in," he said.

So, the ImpaCT system is supposed to mean DSS will get fewer calls and fewer confused clients worried about losing their government aid. However, Impact doesn't go online for more than a year.

“What we're looking for,” said Potter, the advocate for the poor, “is for people to be able to get through to the worker before then.”

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