Saturday, October 21, 2006

One-stop shopping for social services: Too good to be true?

Recently, New York City launched an online site, ACCESS NYC, that allows individuals to determine if they or their family might be eligible for social services. Having recently gone through a family transition myself, I figured I would try the site out and see what assistance my family might be eligible for.

I entered the site and clicked on the version in English.

  1. I was first asked to read the disclaimer and accept the guidelines.
  2. I then was asked to provide the basic information. I began to wonder how much information I needed. Thank goodness only first names and birth dates were required information. No address or zip code was required.
  3. Next I was asked about income for myself and my family. I did find this confusing because I didn't get all the options on the frequency 0f receipt of income. It took several tries for my annual income to come out right. Additionally, you are asked about the source of income. All this information is captured on the bottom of the page.
  4. After income, questions came up about expenses. Since I had entered my name and my family member's name, it was easy to pull down. The only issue was that each expense had to be entered separately and saved.
  5. The last questions were about our housing - own or rent.
  6. The final screen provided what program resources were available to each of us. The available resource was one that I had heard about but I was reassured that it was a viable one.

Recommendations on how to use the site,

  • Gather all your information together before use. (e.g.DOB, Income ($ and sources), Expenses (childcare, medical, etc).
  • Have 15 minutes of uninterupted time
  • Print out a report
  • Remeber your user account if you want to update in the future.

My recommendation to the creators of the site site - create a checklist √. I.E. tell people ahead of time what they type of information they need to answer the questions.

For a brief article on the online eligibility system, click here. To begin, click on Access NYC.

What more local information? or a local resource, feel free to contact us at 718-815-4557.

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