Washington County Job and Family Services suspends child clothing voucher program | News, Sports, Jobs

MARIETTA — A post on the Washington County Department of Job and Family Services’ Facebook page has caused some concern with local families.

“I have directed the Washington County Clothing Voucher Program be suspended until such time as our funding stabilizes and the most basic needs of our fellow residents are being met,” states JFS Director Flite Freimann in the post.

A few residents have gone to social media to question how other programs can remain funded, while this one is suspended this year.

Freimann said this was just a Washington County program, so others aren’t affected state-wide. Funding from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is used for the clothing vouchers, but with inflation, it is not possible to have the program this year.

“On average, we have about 2,000 kids each year at $200 (in vouchers) for each child,” he explained. “That’s $400,000.”

He said since he became director, it has been more and more difficult to help families through vouchers.

“We receive $795,000 in TANF funds, so that’s almost half, or more than half, of what we received from the state,” he said.

Last year, he spent $2.2 million in TANF dollars, which included everything from Washington County and some from surrounding counties who kicked in to help local families, he said.

They funded things like after school programs and summer camps.

“With inflation and everyone was impacted, we were unable to get this money (from other counties),” Freimann said, noting the work the county does with Ely Chapman, Building Bridges 2 Careers, the Betsey Mills Club and the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County is all important. “We have to target the funds we have to make the biggest impact on a child’s life, so I was forced to make a tough decision.”

The Facebook post noted “our priority must be that those families facing severe economic hardship have food and shelter.”

Michele Newbanks can be reached at [email protected]

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