The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) offers many programs and services that are beneficial to caregivers. Whether you are involved in services for yourself or programs for the children you are caring for, you will likely have a caseworker who is assigned to work with you.
One recommendation when working with service providers is to keep a log or journal of all of your contacts with your caseworker. Keeping track of when you talk to people, when you complete paperwork, and deadlines you are given will help you stay organized. Additionally, if you end up having a problem, you will have the specific record to refer back to.
When you need to call your caseworker, it is best to do it as soon as possible. You may have to leave a message, and you want to leave ample time for your caseworker to return your call. It is also recommended that you plan your call ahead of time. Specifically identify what you need to speak with your caseworker about, and do your best to not get lost in unnecessary details. Speaking with your caseworker in a clear, concise, and respectful way will help ensure that you have a positive relationship with DHHS.
Because the kinship population is only a small subset of the individuals that caseworkers deal with, it is common that a DHHS employee may not be aware of all of the programs that are available for relative caregivers. One common example of this occurrence is a caseworker not being familiar with the Child Only Grant, an ineligible grantee award. When you run into a scenario like this one, try to settle the matter with your caseworker first. If your caseworker is unable to provide you with the proper assistance, it may be appropriate to ask to leave a message with their supervisor.
Overall, remaining organized, asking for clarification, and giving yourself as much time as possible to get things accomplished will make working with DHHS a more positive experience.