Posted by Tara Manthey on September 23rd 2011
Enrolling online provides privacy for families and reduces costs for Arkansas
LITTLE ROCK - A new processing center and the official launch of an online benefits application system will ensure Arkansans struggling though the effects of the recession will get the support they need, three non-profit advocacy organizations announced today.
The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, Arkansas Interfaith Alliance and Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families applaud today's opening of a Department of Human Services data processing center in Batesville. The center will support the benefits enrollment website access.arkansas.gov, which gives Arkansans the option of applying for benefits online.
"ACCESS Arkansas will provide more eligible people access to the SNAP program, helping them purchase food for their families," said Rhonda Sanders, Executive Director of Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. "Thousands of Arkansas families have turned to these support systems for the first time because of a lost job or foreclosed home. Being able to apply online will help families overcome the stigma of going to the local DHS office."
In addition to the convenience and privacy of online applications, ACCESS Arkansas also will let families know about other supports for which they may be eligible, including the ARKids First health insurance program.
"This system compliments other state efforts to make it easier for families to enroll or re-enroll in ARKids First and other support systems that keep our local and state economies stable by helping families," said Elisabeth Wright Burak, Health Policy Director for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.
New Census Bureau data released Thursday show that poverty rates have held steady between 2009 and 2010 after jumping significantly during the recession. In 2010, 27.2 percent of Arkansas children were in families living in poverty, compared to 26.9 percent in 2009. Meanwhile, the overall poverty rate stayed at 18.8 percent between 2009 and 2010.
"We know that thousands of Arkansans are able to stay afloat during these rough times because they are able to turn to food stamps, childcare assistance and unemployment insurance benefits," said the Rev. Steve Copley, Chairman of the Arkansas Interfaith Alliance. "Making it easier for eligible families to get the help they need really does make a difference in their lives."
The mission of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance is to reduce hunger through a unified effort to provide hunger relief, education and advocacy. Online at www.arhungeralliance.org.
Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families is a statewide, non-profit child advocacy organization established in 1977. Our mission is to ensure that all children and their families have the resources and opportunities to lead healthy and productive lives and to realize their full potential. On the web at www.aradvocates.org.
The Arkansas Interfaith Alliance is dedicated to encouraging dialogue among people of different faith traditions to respond when hatred and misunderstandings divide neighbors and allow religion to heal and light the way to understanding and compassion. We stand up for the rights of the poor, the oppressed and the disenfranchised in our cities and towns. Online at www.arkinterfaith.org.