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Government and Politics


Ohio adds an Office of Human Services Innovation
Gov. Kasich says the department will help connect programs and eliminate waste
by WKSU's ANDY CHOW


Reporter
Andy Chow
 
Gov. John Kasich welcomed a new office to the Department of Job and Family Services.
Courtesy of Ohio Governor's Office
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In The Region:

Officials want to find a better way of connecting the state's numerous public assistance programs with a path to employment and financial independence. As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, a new step towards the goal started today with the announcement of a new state office and its director.

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Plans to create the Office of Human Services Innovation have been in the works since Gov. John Kasich signed his budget update in June. However, its vision became more tangible today with the announcement that Doug Lumpkin will head that office.

Lumpkin is a longtime public servant who has been director of both the Ohio and Franklin County Departments of Job and Family Services.

Lumpkin envisioned his new role after looking at a list of about 30 public assistance programs in the state, ranging from youth services to education and employment training.

“As I was thinking about those I thought, 'How do we weave those into something that actually make the world better for folks?'" Lumpkin says. "'How do we weave that into something that actually works for folks?”

Coordinating and streamlining
Lumpkin says that is the broad goal of his one-person office at this point, finding ways of coordinating and streamlining services for those in need.

“Families who are in crisis often are overwhelmed by what they face while trying to find the opportunity to get help," Lumpkin says. "We can get better at that.”

Kasich says critics have grown cynical of taxpayer-funded assistance, and that is why he says the state needs this office.

“They say ‘Look, we’re willing to help somebody but tired of helping people who don’t want to help themselves, and we want all this stopped,'” Kasich says.

A start and self-help
But the governor says improving the coordination of these services will allow more people to effectively access the programs.

“We want to help them to get up because I think implanted in every one of our souls is the dignity of work," Kasich says. "And sometimes you’ve got to scrape real deep to get way down there to find that motivation but I believe it’s there.”

The new human services innovation office will be within the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Cynthia Dungey, director of the department, says the mission goes beyond the initial point of employment.

“It’s not important to just get a job," Dungey says. "It’s important to be able to keep the job and succeed at the job so we can see the long-term effects of being able to sustain oneself and self-sufficiency.”

The governor believes this new step will have a huge impact and not just for Ohio.

“If we do this right in my opinion, it’ll change the country," Kasich says.

Lumpkin will come up suggestions on how to best coordinate the services, revise incentives, and standardize eligibility determinations. Those suggestions must be submitted by the end of the year. 

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