DCF in Small Towns

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The agency in charge of protecting children from abuse is feeling the budget pinch. The Department of Children and Families is suffering for state budget cuts. Those cuts aren't going over well the people in rural communities.

The logo on the door still says children and families, but there's also a sign that reads for sale. The DCF office in Blountstown provided food stamps, Medicaid, and temporary assistance to needy families.

Columbus Jackson says since the office has left town the process to get assistance is slower.

Columbus says, "I know people that have missed meals, ‘cause personally I have bought food for some people that didn't get their food stamps and everything."

DFC recently closed 27 offices in small communities with the goal to reduce staff and streamline their operation. Now that the office in Blountstown is closed, families needing to apply for assistance are referred to the Marianna office, a toll free number, or online access.

DCF still has a family placement center in Blountstown. Diane Garcia found out what happens when someone goes there looking for any other type of assistance.

Diane says, "They gave me a 1-800 number. I couldn't make an appointment with them. I couldn't see anybody face to face. They told me to be sure to call the 1-800 number. That's the only way I was going to get to talk to anybody."

Vernice Martin says she'd rather explain her situation to a person than a machine.

Vernice says, "It's very inconvenient. I'd rather be one on one with a person, sitting in front of a desk with a case worker instead of talking on the telephone."

DFC and the Calhoun County Library are discussing plans to provide assistance with online applicants. DCF's Marianna office will go from 21 employees to just five by this Friday.