Newsroom > DHHS News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 3, 2009

CONTACT
Jeanne Atkinson, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-8287

Locations Selected for Customer Service Centers


Lincoln – The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) today announced the future locations and sizes of four new customer service centers that will provide economic assistance services: Lexington, 50 employees; Scottsbluff and Lincoln, 100 employees each; and Fremont, 150 employees.

The customer service centers are the third phase of ACCESSNebraska, an effort to modernize service delivery through increased use of technology, changes in policy and other work efficiency improvements. The first two phases were the ability to apply for services online and document imaging (electronic scanning, storing and retrieving of documents).

“Moving to customer service centers creates a single phone number that people all across the state can call for services,” said Kerry Winterer, CEO of DHHS. “I know we can all work together to get people the services to which they are entitled more efficiently and effectively.”

Economic assistance services include several federal and state programs: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps); Medicaid, Child Care; Aid to Aged, Blind and Disabled (AABD); and Nebraska Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

“The transition will be gradual, with the first center taking calls by the fall of 2010, and the others opening approximately every six months or sooner after that,” said Todd Reckling, director of the Division of Children and Family Services in DHHS.

Reckling said that by 2012, once all Customer Service Centers are operating, nearly 400 economic assistance staff will be located in the centers, and about 250 will continue to be located in local offices.

The public won’t be limited to applying on-line through ACCESSNebraska or over the phone through a Customer Service Center.

“A face-to-face interview will be available if someone asks for one,” Reckling said. “Over 30 per cent of our electronic applications are coming in after traditional hours. We expect more people to access services in these new ways as they see how convenient it is not to have to drive long distances or only be able to apply for services during traditional work hours.”

As the work of determining eligibility for programs transitions to the customer service centers, some local DHHS offices with economic assistance staff will become itinerant sites. This could mean that economic assistance staff may be in those offices on a part-time basis, for example only one or two days a week or month, rather than five days a week. It could also mean that computers will be available so people can apply on-line for economic assistance services in offices that have DHHS staff from other divisions.

A tentative list of itinerant offices will be available on December 4 after the information has been shared with staff.

Current budget projections are for a $6.5 million savings (federal and state) per year once ACCESSNebraska is fully implemented in 2012.

“ACCESSNebraska is making economic assistance programs more available to the public so we can better serve those in need,” Reckling said.

Additional information about the Customer Service Centers can be found at: http://www.das.state.ne.us/materiel/purchasing/ and http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/children_family_services

-30-