The following is a press release from the office of Louisiana Department of Social Services:
Louisiana Department of Social Services (DSS) Secretary Kristy Nichols announced a plan to implement a new model of service delivery, which will no longer require clients to visit a physical office location to apply or receive information about DSS services.
"The demand for our services has increased over the past three years. For example, we have seen a 35 percent increase in the number of food stamp cases statewide from 2007 to 2010," Nichols said. "Our current office structure and business processes cannot continue to meet the needs of Louisiana residents. We must adapt to current and future budget pressures and the growing need of our clients and modernize our delivery system in order to sustain our services."
Nichols said DSS has 165 offices in parishes across the state with multiple office locations in many parishes. This costs the agency approximately $27.6 million annually in rent and leases alone.
"Currently, some clients must visit two or three different office locations to get the services and information they need from DSS. This wastes our clients' time and transportation resources and poses an unnecessary cost to taxpayers," said Nichols.
As part of DSS' new plan, the agency will consolidate 20 parish and regional offices. Following the consolidations, residents in these areas will have the option to conduct DSS business by phone or Internet without ever having to visit a physical office. Clients would also be able to visit another DSS office or utilize DSS community partner sites.
The offices that will be consolidated by July 1 are either family assistance or regional offices that have month-to-month leases, do not provide direct client services or are in close proximity to other DSS office locations in the same or adjacent parishes.