The state Department of Social Services Director tells Missouri lawmakers he’ll personally intervene to help constituents obtain food stamps they’re entitled to, after learning about more phone problems during a hearing.
State Rep. Courtney Curtis (D-Ferguson) told DSS Director Brian Kincade on Wednesday about two constituents who lost their food stamps because they couldn’t reach Call Center staff. Kincade has already helped one of them obtain their benefits. Representative Curtis is concerned about the phones.
“So the bar that you’re setting now is that you’re going to intervene on each and every case that we have an issue with. Is that what you’re saying?” Curtis asked Kincade. “When I hear about them, I do,” Kincade responded.
The Department says it’s made improvements, but Curtis says he’s still hearing complaints.
“Representative Randy Dunn (D-Kansas City) had a constituent that reached out to him and she was, I guess, renewing. And she wasn’t able to get through on the phone system, so she lost her benefits because of that,” Curtis said.
Director Kincade told Curtis he’ll investigate, to see what happened. Kincade told the Committee that service is improving, since calls have been moved in-house.
“We’re handling about 150,000 (calls) a month, and those should be ones that we are in a position to address while that person is on the phone or very shortly thereafter,” Kincade said.
Kincade testified that the previous contractor took about 90,000 monthly calls and addressed about half of them.
State Rep. Marsha Haefner (R-Oakville) chairs the House Appropriations Committee on Health, Mental Health and Social Services. Haefner and Curtis say the Committee will discuss the phone issue again at a September oversight hearing.