Butler County agency to close Middletown office; layoff 50


Joshua Miller, a case worker at local shelter, uses the Butler County Job and Family Services center in Middletown to assist clients in getting food stamps and other cash assistance.
"Just helping a client apply for some of the services that they need," Miller said.
Now that its doors are closing,  he says it's a loss for the community members who have come here for close to 25 years.
"It's just nervousness, because it was very convenient for some of the people to be within walking distance -- we have three public housing facilities around here, and a lot of the paper work, documentation that they were able to turn in, a lot of people don't have working telephones and things like that, so they were able to come here and turn in the documentation they needed," Miller said.
The Middletown office serves nearly 700 people a month, once it's closed it will save nearly $90,000 a year, on top of that 50 workers are losing their jobs, putting those who once helped others with cash assistance and unemployment benefits on the other side of the desk.
"It's been a somber day today with a lot of folks leaving," said Susan Oakes, a supervisor at the Middletown office.
JfS director Jerome Kearns says with declining revenues and personnel making up 50 percent of their budget, they had no other choice; but with 50 less workers how will those remaining manage the large case load?
"Implementing a call center to answer calls that people have about their benefits, we promote phone interviews now where people historically people have had to come in to one of our physical structures, to apply for benefits, they can do that online now," Kearns.
Kearns and other officials are asking clients to begin conducting their business with the agency online, those who used the Middletown office will now have to come to the Hamilton office on High Street.
Since 2009 Butler County Job & Family services has received $19 million less in state and federal funding. The Middletown office will close on Nov. 22.
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