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The 500th community partner to join the network was Heavenly Hands Personal Care Service in Baker, a Gold level partner.
"Community partners are organizations that are often already serving our customers such as school health centers, food banks, councils on aging and faith-based organizations," said DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier. "By partnering with these agencies, DCFS is providing more convenient ways for customers to access services without having to visit a DCFS office."
Sonnier added that community partners offer varying levels of service ranging from assistance with online applications to information and brochures.
There are three levels of participation for community partners:
- Bronze level partners are self-service sites that make informational materials available, as well as offer paper applications, telephones, fax machines and other office equipment necessary for applicants to carry out business with DCFS.
- Silver level partners, in addition to bronze-level services, make at least one computer available for members of public to fill out and submit an online application to DCFS. Additionally, silver partners have staff available to answer questions during the application process.
- Gold level partners, in addition to bronze and silver-level services, have partner staff available to enter applicant information on behalf of the applicant, if requested.
Each community partner is tagged with icons to indicate the services provided by that organization. Customers can search for services including application assistance; roving workers; apply online; telephone, copy and fax; brochures and information; and paper applications. The icons also indicate which partners have special hours or serve special populations such as seniors or the homeless.
By selecting a specific community partner, customers can get more detailed information, as well as a map and directions to the location.
"Community partners are one of the ways DCFS is working to increase access to DCFS services. With 500 partners statewide, customers can find the services they need more easily," said Sonnier.
Community partners undergo training from DCFS and keep all information about customers confidential. Partners do not determine eligibility for DCFS program benefits. DCFS is responsible for processing all applications completed at a community partner site, including interviewing the applicant, determining eligibility for benefits and notifying applicants of decisions.
To find a community partner nearby, visit www.dcfs.louisiana.gov. Organizations interested in becoming community partners can learn more at www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/partners.