The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) announced it will temporarily close 11 Family Community Resource Centers (FCRCs) to the public starting Thursday, April 16.
All benefits applications are fully available by phone and online. Staff will respond by phone and will continue handling local emergency assistance needs, according to a news release.
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, the release states.
“This is not a decision we make lightly,” said IDHS Secretary Grace Hou. “However, we have to balance the urgent needs of residents facing hunger and poverty with extremely serious public health directives. Even as many IDHS offices close, our State’s safety net remains available. Please know that every local office has an urgent call team available to respond right away to emergency cases.”
Since last month, IDHS has been urging customers to stay home unless otherwise necessary. Foot traffic into local offices has decreased, 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.
More information about COVID-19 is available at www.CoronaVirus.Illinois.Gov and through the COVID-19 Hotline at 1-800-889-3931.
Source: The Daily Chronicle