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TDHS installs new precautions for office visitors

From Staff Reports

The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) is implementing new COVID-19 precautions for all visitors entering office lobbies across the state. These rules will impact customers coming into state offices for scheduled in-person appointments beginning Monday, June 1, 2020.

The new guidelines include:

• Arriving alone to drop-off or pick-up documents or take part in scheduled in-person appointments.

• Wearing a mask or cloth face covering.

• Answering COVID-19 health screening questions and passing a temperature check.

• Maintaining a distance of six feet from others.

• Not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.

Since late March, TDHS offices have been open to customers on an appointment-only basis and this policy will continue to be in effect. Additionally, some interview requirements have been temporarily waived for individuals receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits. Customers filing initial applications and recertifications are not required to visit an office provided their identity has been verified and all other mandatory verifications have been completed.

These temporary changes to office visit requirements have been necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing TDHS to begin implementing modernization of the department’s services. These changes will encourage customers to access assistance online or at lobby kiosks and, over time, reduce the need for office visits.

“We are transforming the way the department provides services so that Tennesseans can access the help they need from home or with as little time in the office as necessary,” said TDHS Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes. “These moves will help make us more efficient and easier to work with and provide a better experience for the families we serve.”

These TDHS services are always available online:

• The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutritional assistance benefits to children and families, the elderly, the disabled, unemployed and working families. Apply for services online https://faonlineapp.dhs.tn.gov/.’

• TANF provides temporary cash assistance, transportation, child care assistance, educational supports, job training, employment activities, and other support services. Apply for services online.

• The Child Support program provides services that promote parental responsibility to meet the financial needs of children and their families. Apply for services online here. Payments can be made online.

Adult Protective Services investigates reports of abuse, neglect (including self-neglect) or financial exploitation of adults who are unable to protect themselves due to a physical or mental limitation. Call toll free 1-888-APS-TENN (1-888-277-8366) or report suspected abuse online.

• The Child Care Certificate Program provides child care financial assistance to families who are working or pursuing post-secondary education and who meet certain income eligibility requirements. Apply for Child Care Payment Assistance/Smart Steps online.

Additionally, TDHS is offering assistance related to COVID-19 that can be accessed online including:

• Emergency Cash Assistance provides two months of payments to families who’ve lost employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Apply online.

• The COVID-19 Essential Employee Child Care Payment Assistance program supports the child care needs of families that are serving the state in essential workforce positions. Apply online.

Learn more about the Tennessee Department of Human Services at www.tn.gov/humanservices.