Many have found the overwhelming nature of the first visit to the social services office so stressfull that they have walked away rather than pursue the services that they are truly in need of at this time. These are simple tips to make that first appointment as smooth and organized as possible. First things first, stop by your local social services office and pick up the envelope of forms that you will need to have filled out, then take it home and complete them.
Be prepared. You will need to gather information from multiple sources such as banks, landlords, and family to supply to your social worker. Along with your completed forms you will need copies of identification for every member of your family. This usually includes primary identification such as a birth certificate and secondary picture identification such as a driver’s license. Then you will need to gather 3 months of bank statements for all of your current personal, business, and savings accounts. You will use these to verify holdings and income to your worker. If you rent your home or dwelling you will need to supply 3 months of paid rent receipts and/or a copy of your lease. You will also need to have your landlord sign a verification form from your original packet. As well, bring copies of all utility bills, especially shut-off notifications. They will be used to determine if you can apply for further services that pay utilities. Next you will need employer verification if you are still working, and pay stubs from the last 3 to 6 months if you are currently unemployed. Try to put together a list of current monthly expenses to give the worker an idea of what your financial needs are, this will help him/her decide what programs you should be applying for at that time. Once you have all of this information together it is time to go to your local office for your initial screening.
Now timing is everything. Arriving early in the morning does not guarantee a short wait, instead a rather long one. Let me explain. The crowd starts to gather about a half hour before the office opens. By the time the doors are unlocked thirty people are standing in line. Then they are brought in to stand at the counter and check in. The social workers themselves don’t usually arrive, get settled, and start taking the appointments for up to an hour after that, and each case can be time consuming depending on it’s nature. The best time to arrive is one half hour before the office closes. Everyone in the facility when they lock the doors for the day must be seen by a social worker, so you are guaranteed a screening. Also the social workers’ day is coming to an end which makes them more eager to handle these cases in a time efficient manner, therefore decreasing your wait time substantially.
Regardless of when you go to the social service office comfort measures will also help decrease the amount of stress you feel. Bring a small snack and a contained drink, you are allowed to have these in the office waiting area. Be sure to have your cell phone so you can handle other daily tasks while waiting. If you bring a child/children with you be sure to bring something to occupy them for a while and hand wipes, for the germs they most probably will be collecting on their hands and toys. Finally, a small seat cushion if sitting on metal benches may cause you discomfort.
As a last tip, if you are disabled in any way that is preventing you from working, you must first apply to your local/state disability office for long/short term disability before they will consider you for any temporary assistance. Bring that first appointment letter, dated, with you to your appointment at the department of social services for proof that you have applied.
These tips will keep your first visit organized, time efficient, and more comfortable for you. Therefore reducing the process stress and increasing your ability to succeed in receiving the local services that you need.