Strong Child Care Services continue as department restructures: Mary Lorence named DHSS Childcare Manager
The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) today announced $5,290,514 in child care grants to communities and organizations throughout Alaska that provide services to children. The awards are administered by the Child Care Assistance Program, which recently moved from the Department of Education and Early Development to the Division of Public Assistance as part of a large DHSS reorganization for efficiency and better customer service.
Elderly Alaskans on very low incomes should find it easy to collect $120 a month through a new program. The aid is intended to ease the pain of Gov. Frank Murkowski's elimination of the immensely popular Longevity Bonus Program.
The ease of applying for the money carries a potential cost. The program won't be fraud-proof, state officials say.
No interview is required. No documentation of income. No visit to the welfare office. The program will operate in part on trust.
I would like to join Governor Murkowski in honoring each of you by designating Public Assistance Workers Appreciation Week, July 13-19, 2003. The important work of case managers, support service staff, supervisors, administrative support personnel, employment specialists and others is not always apparent to the public. However, the people you help achieve self-sufficiency, or those unable to work whom you help with financial assistance, medical assistance or other services, know first-hand of your work. It is an art to be able to give aid, to lend a hand without building dependence, and to respect and preserve the dignity of those whom we serve. For your great success at this vital job, and for your contributions to the people of this State, I offer my sincerest thanks and congratulations.
We have added the new application for the Alaska Senior Assistance Program to the DPA Public website. It is available as a Adobe Acrobat PDF document for the public to print out and mail in.
There is also a Frequently Asked Questions page that answers many common questions about the program.
Eligible seniors will receive their final Longevity Bonus checks in August 2003. With that check, they will receive information about a new program called the Alaska Senior Assistance Program (ASAP). The ASAP is not a replacement for the Longevity Bonus, but it will help soften the blow to some seniors who are losing the bonus.
The Alaska Senior Assistance Program is a temporary program that will provide $120 a month to Alaska seniors age 65 or older who meet certain income and asset tests.
Most Alaskans know someone who has a seasonal job -- they play an important part in the state's economy. Just how important a role is revealed in a new report from the Department of Labor.
That belief is confirmed in a new study that shows Alaska's workforce jumps by 50,000 jobs every year when seasonal work begins. And that number tends not to change much year-to-year.
New Office of Children
I am pleased to report that the first day of our reorganization was a success. We had a few blips in the Medicaid check writing process, but if you consider the size and scope of the reorganization effort, our first day was a success. This was due to the work of the employees of this department and the time and effort that went into the reorganization plan. It was no small task-and you deserve congratulations. This is the largest reorganization in our 84-year history as a department, one that we undertook to provide better service to Alaskans.
Earlier this year, Governor Murkowski issued an administrative order asking that all department websites adopt the "look and feel" of the new state website.
The new look is in place for the department and DPA. There may be some broken links or other issues that should be resolved soon.
Additionally, we will soon be updating DPAweb and the public DPA website to update the new organizational structure.
GUIDELINES: State expects 7,500 to qualify; 18,000 got longevity bonus.
JUNEAU -- The state announced income guidelines Thursday for a new program to provide $120 monthly payments for low-income seniors who will lose longevity bonuses in September.
Senior advocates said the program will help some needy senior citizens, but they fear others will fall through the cracks. "As my mother used to say, it's better than a sharp stick in the eye," said Pat Luby, legislative representative for AARP in Alaska. "It's still going to be a mess for many of our oldest citizens."