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Advocates for Ohio's Future celebrated a small victory yesterday as Governor John Kasich put a stop to efforts by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to recover 25-year-old welfare overpayments.
Our lead advocates worked behind the scenes last week after news broke that the Department had sent 14,000 collection notices to Ohioans demanding prompt repayment for errors the Department itself made.
The collection notice letters affected people who had not committed fraud and who likely did not have documentation going back a quarter-century to confirm or refute the claims. Coming, as they did, just before the holidays, the letters likely caused confusion and added concern for individuals and families struggling because of the economy.
Advocates for Ohio’s Future, the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services, and the Ohio Poverty Law Center highlighted the harmfulness of the new policy and asked Governor Kasich and ODJFS Director Michael Colbert to consider reversing the policy.
Acting swiftly and decisively, Governor Kasich and Director Colbert decided to revert to the Department’s standard practice of looking back no more than 10 years. AOF is grateful for the Administration’s decision to revert to prior policy. (Read our news release commending the Governor.) In another welcome move, the Governor decided that no one should have to refund overpayments made due to government error. For more news, check out this article in The Columbus Dispatch this morning.
We will continue to monitor policy and budget-related issues in Ohio and advocate for the most vulnerable Ohioans. Our goal is to activate a grassroots network of people like you around human needs issues.
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Thanks for helping us sustain and build our network!
Will Petrik, Outreach Director