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Letter from a caseworker: 'I have to write this for my own sanity'

Community Legal Services of Philadelphia received this anonymous letter from a Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare caseworker at a County Assistance Office in Philadelphia. Authenticity is impossible to prove, but CLS says it believes it is real. It has been transcribed in order to protect the author from being identified by handwriting.

I have to write this for my own sanity and a hope that someone will stop a lot of injustice. I'm work for the state and have witnessed the worst kind of abuse kept on the people least likely to defend them selves. The indigent of Philadelphia.

I work in what has come to be known as modern office. A design to further degrade the poor. As workers we have slowly seen things such as needed supplies to run any office dwindle to the point at non-existent. In the beginning of the year there was no copy paper if any of our seven copiers worked. To solve the problem our work stations were not connected to printers, scanners were placed all over the office of which only a minimum are used.

But these are minor inconvenience compared to what has been done to clients. Imagine a working couple with three children lose there jobs come to welfare and wait I've seen from 40 days and as much as 70 days before their application is looked at. I thought we had five days to decide if a household were eligible for emergency food stamps.

Benefits that would normally be reevaluated in a year. The HH completed the documents mail them in Friday. Never received a schedule phone call for an interview. Stop. Case closed they go back to the end of the line. The one with 30-60 days application process.

Disabled individuals are required to update medical forms which are never mailed timely causing clients to come to county office get form return it, never updated and stop. Case closed.

When cases close client do not receive the required time with a proper notice. They simple find out when their benefits are not available.

With modern office there are no case workers, an easy way for everyone to pass the buck or not take responsibility. The clients are left to come to a crowded office more than once out of desperation, and still they are not serviced properly.

Cases were left so long out of compliance (no recertification) now workers are being instructed to close them. Which cases are these, children medical, disabled and people over 65, unbelievable, I'm talking at about 5000 alone in one modern district! The administration is so out of wack they don't care. They want to be able to say modern office works. They do not want to be singled out as failures. But in fact they are and we have been threatened if we speak or say anything to the media. If we advise clients to call Welfare Rights (that I believe has sold out). I've been told they don't even answer their phones anymore. We as workers are being squeezed, but my concerns are really with our clients that are suffering in silence, and have no voices, nor anyone advocating for fair, and just service. To be treated as human beings with genuine needs that are not being cared for.

These were just a few of the injustice. I write this anonymously for obvious reasons. I hope you will be able to look into these situations. And if you are not able to do anything, bring it to light. Look into some of the things I've pointed to. Do a random sample do some applications yourselves.

I'm hoping something can be done, and if not by you. Pass this on, forward it to where you think it would do the best good.


State Worker.