Wednesday, April 15th, 2020
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is taking another step to protect its staff and residents of Illinois by temporarily closing 11 Family Community Resource Centers (FCRCs) to the public, starting Thursday, April 16. In ordinary times, IDHS operates 75 FCRCs, the public facing offices individuals and families can use to secure essential nutrition, income and medical supports.
IDHS's principle goal is to ensure that all eligible residents can receive life-sustaining benefits while protecting the safety and health of all staff and customers.
Since last month, IDHS has been urging customers to stay home unless absolutely necessary. Foot traffic into local offices has plummeted, while online and telephone applications for food and medical benefits are skyrocketing, with nearly 30,000 people seeking first-time medical or food benefits each week compared to the usual 10,000 weekly applications.
IDHS continues to encourage all customers to apply for and manage their benefits online at www.ABE.Illinois.Gov and to call the IDHS Help is Here toll-free line at 1-833-2-FIND-HELP. IDHS will keep both its customers and employees updated as to office re-openings in the weeks ahead.
Since March 29, 14 of Illinois 75 public facing FCRCs remained open, with a reduced workforce and a variety of safeguards in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. As of today, 11 local offices remain open. Three were recently closed out of an abundance of caution following positive COVID-19 tests of staff employed in those offices.
Staff who usually work in the public-facing FCRCs will work remotely to process important benefits, and about 180 ABE (Access to Benefits Electronically) call center agents will be taking calls from customers across the state. IDHS is also exploring making non-public back offices available to IDHS staff who find themselves unable to work from home due to technology limitations so casework and telephone support can continue to the maximum possible extent.
Click here to view the full announcement.
Grace B. Hou