GALLIPOLIS — Residents of Gallia County have now until the end of June to apply for this summer’s school clothing and supplies program through the Gallia County Department of Job and Family Services.
Lori Church, income maintenance supervisor at DJFS, reported last week that the program that aids families in the purchase clothing and other school supplies for their children is funded each year through “leftover” monies from their agency and other county departments of job and family services.
“We do our year-end closeouts and we see how much money we have left, and then we ask for additional funds from other counties that have monies left over. Sometimes they have monies left over and they let us have it,” Church said. “We use that funding for the school clothing program because it’s such a great program for the county, for its residents and especially for the children.”
While employees with DJFS are busy preparing for this year’s school clothing program, as with every other year, how much funding is available for the program is not yet known. Church reported that the fiscal year for DJFS ends this month and employees are awaiting final figures for the monies that will be utilized in this year’s program.
Church further reported that the amount of funding, which is left over from TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) programs, varies from year to year. However, each year the total number of children served in the program is near the 1,400 mark, according to Church, and, in past years, families have received as much as $200 to purchase clothing and supplies for each of their children enrolled in school, but how much each child will get this year is unknown.
In 2012, Church reported that DJFS received approximately $283,000 in funding to provide each of the 1,418 children that had applied in the program a $200 voucher. In 2013, the number of children served went up slightly, according to Church.
“We’ve always been around the 1,400 mark,” she said. “We had 806 applications last year and, out of those, there were 1,457 children.”
While DJFS has been offering this program to needy families in Gallia County for several years, Church reported that utilizing the funding for this particular program each summer is especially worthwhile as it helps local children become more prepared for the school year.
“We do it to help the community — to help the kids. It’s needed and appreciated by the families in the community and we want the children to be prepared to attend classes and have the supplies that they need so that they can learn and be successful in their classes,” she said. “Clothing is always an issue with kids. It shouldn’t be, but it is, and we don’t want the children to be scrutinized because they don’t have same clothes as everybody else when they start school. It helps them to be more confident and more productive.”
Local families will have until June 30 to submit their applications and will be notified by mail no later than Aug. 11 of whether or not their applications have been accepted.
Shopping days this year will be held from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Aug. 11-14 at Kmart and Peebles in Gallipolis, and, according to Church, while DJFS employees would like to allow participants to shop at additional stores, DJFS staff members must be present at each location to help verify the clothing and supplies that are purchased by participating families, thus only two stores will be participating this year.
Church further encouraged those individuals who will participate in this year’s program to utilize the entire amount of the voucher that they are allotted — whatever the amount of the vouchers may be this year — as the funding that is not utilized just goes away.
“We try to tell them while they are line shopping to overspend, and, in that way, once they get to [the total amount of their voucher], they’re good,” she said. “When we see them come up and they don’t have hardly anything in their basket, we say ‘Go get twice as much.’ … We want them to use it all.”
The program is organized and supported by the entire department, Church reported as she thanked her colleagues and the support of the local stores who have continued to participate each year in the program.
“It’s an agency program, everyone in our agency works on it, not just our income maintenance section,” she said. “It’s a joint effort and we couldn’t get it done without the help of all of our employees here at the agency and with the cooperation of Kmart and Peebles.”
Applications can be picked up at the DJFS office located at 848 Third Ave. in Gallipolis, or can be obtained online at gallianet.net. Once on the Gallianet website, click on “popular links” and then on “school clothing.” A PDF file of the application is located on the page and can be opened and printed.
According to the DFJS, applications must be returned to their office and the last 30 days of household income must be attached to the application. If this information is not enclosed, the application will be denied.
Applications must also be completed with all of the members present in the household listed, their income and must be signed.
Children in the home to receive funding through the school clothing and supplies program must be enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade and applicants must provide proof of enrollment for children under 6 and over 17. Failure to provide this information will cause a denial of the application.
The DJFS further stated that information concerning submitted applications will not be given over the phone.
The Gallia County Department of Job and Family Services can be contacted at (740) 446-3222.