Anti-hunger group’s report details poor service at Pa. welfare department

    It’s bad enough when you call the cable company and can’t get through to a human being. 

    But that hardly compares with a new report by the anti-hunger group Just Harvest, which found that many people can’t reach anyone at the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. 

    Eighty-five percent of test phone calls to the DPW were never answered by an actual person, according to Just Harvest. The report also found evidence of lost paperwork and dropped calls.

    Rochelle Jackson, a public policy advocate at Just Harvest, said that keeps struggling people from signing up for food stamps and other benefits.

    “Because someone is not answering the phone and someone can’t get through to the department, or because someone’s paperwork has been lost,” she said, “this has resulted in a child not having health insurance and not being able to get the medication or the health treatment that they need.”

    DPW spokeswoman Carey Miller said that department is reviewing the report’s findings.

    “We do have a team of individuals who are looking at each of those different claims and the examples to see how we can address the issues,” said Miller.

    Jackson blames the problems, in part, on DPW being understaffed.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.