Job and Family Services Plans Collaboration Effort

The Hancock County commissioners on Wednesday authorized Hancock County Job and Family Services to enter into a joint program with the Job and Family Services agencies of seven other counties for the purpose of sharing resources.

The program, designed to reduce costs and provide more efficient services to clients, is called “Collabor8,” and will include a shared call center as well as shared Web services between counties.

Counties involved in the collaboration include Hancock, Knox, Marion, Morrow, Sandusky and Wood. Seneca County will also join the program in its second phase.

Judy Wauford, director of Hancock County Job and Family Services, has said the agency is moving toward more telephone- and Internet-based services, as opposed to face-to-face services, as a way to reduce costs.

Job and Family Services has seen its funding decrease over the past three years, Wauford has said. As of early this month, the staff at Job and Family Services had been reduced by 32 percent since 2008, through attrition and layoffs, in an attempt to cut costs.

The agency is also bracing for additional funding cuts when the new state budget takes effect in July.

Wauford told the commissioners Wednesday that the new collaboration with the other counties will result in cost savings, but she’s not yet sure what the amount of the savings will be.

“The project’s costs are the only thing I have any concern about. I don’t know what they’re going to be yet. We are going to share them according to each individual county’s requirements. There is no specific dollar amount attached to it at this point,” Wauford said.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will pay part of the cost of combining the counties’ services, Wauford said.

(Article By LINSEY MAUGHAN, Staff Writer. Reprinted with Permission From the Courier/June 23, 2011)