Newsroom

Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Rick Scott
Governor

David E. Wilkins
Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 15, 2011
MEDIA CONTACT: Erin Gillespie,
Press Secretary,
(850) 717-4450
DCF Communications

DCF IMPROVES CUSTOMERS' ACCESS TO BENEFIT INFORMATION
~ Automatic email and text alerts let recipients know about changes to their accounts. ~

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. – Beginning this week, Florida recipients of public benefits can receive email, text message or voice mail alerts regarding the status of their food stamp or cash assistance accounts.

The alerts are set up through the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. Recipients may call EBT Customer Service (1-888-356-3281) to register to receive an alert via voice or text message, or they may register at the EBT Account website (www.ebtaccount.jpmorgan.com) to receive an alert via e-mail, voice or text message.

EBT alert system is one of many changes made this year by the Florida Department of Children and Families to improve access for our clients. As the number of people receiving these temporary, federally-funded benefits has increased in Florida, our agency has worked diligently to efficiently process these benefits and give quick, easy help to clients who need to get information about their case.

DCF's Economic Self-Sufficiency Program is responsible for determining eligibility for public assistance and providing ongoing case management of federal benefits. In 2011, Florida was awarded a bonus of more than $6 million from the United States Department of Agriculture for having the lowest error rate nationwide for food assistance payments. This was the third year in a row Florida led the nation in accuracy.

"As we are helping millions of Floridians achieve independence and self-sufficiency, we need to efficiently process these benefits,” said Secretary David Wilkins. “These improvements will more effectively help our friends and neighbors."

The My Access Account has been enhanced to allow recipients to make updates to their account, including adding or removing a household member and reporting changes to their address, contact information and income. Clients can now upload documentation to verify their income and other required information. In addition, the Department has increased the number of front-line staff who can help customers over the phone. An online chat function is also being tested so we can efficiently help clients with their questions.

As more clients utilize our online systems, our Customer Call Centers have been better able to help those calling for assistance. In the past four months, the number of calls coming into our call centers has dropped by more than 50 percent.

The Food Assistance Program helps low-income individuals and families buy the food they need for good health. The Temporary Cash Assistance Program provides short-term cash benefits to families with children under the age of 18, or under age 19 if full-time secondary school students, as well as pregnant women in their last trimester. The Medicaid program provides health insurance to families with children under age 18 and to senior and disabled adults.

The Department currently has 3.3 million food assistance recipients and about 82,000 who receive cash assistance. The number of individuals receiving Medicaid is 2.7 million. To apply for benefits, go to www.myflorida.com/accessflorida.

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