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Please note Call Center hours for the week of Thanksgiving. The Call Center will be open normal business hours on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Nov. 20-22. The Call Center will be closed on Thursday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, though self-service options will remain accessible, including the Customer Portal (healthyrhode.ri.gov), and mobile app. The Call Center will not take incoming calls on Friday for processing work, normally completed on Wednesdays. Please plan accordingly and Happy Thanksgiving!
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Looking back at 2021, the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS) demonstrated the power of working together to create meaningful change. Despite an ongoing pandemic, DHS staff worked around the clock to achieve some of the Department’s greatest accomplishments to date.
From a legislative perspective, 2021 was one of the most successful years for the Department. For the first time in more than 30 years, families receiving Rhode Island Works (RIW) benefits received a 30 percent benefits increase. The updated rate was issued to Rhode Island households by September 2021 – only a short time after it was signed into law by Governor McKee. Other RIW updates included extending a yearly clothing allowance to all children in RIW households and introducing earned income disregard.
In addition to this needed relief for many families in our State, the Department was also working to distribute stabilization grants to Child Care providers amidst a worker shortage that is being exacerbated by the pandemic.
Aid to Child Care providers came in the form of direct grants totaling $18.6 million during the first phase of the CRRSA stabilization grants (supporting 94% of total providers statewide) and another $5 million administered with LISC from the Child Care Provider Relief Fund. As of the close of 2021, the Office of Child Care also awarded $20.8 million in ARPA ReInvigorate Child Care Stabilization Grants to 559 providers.
Together, with the Governor and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), DHS is optimistic about what the future holds for our customers and community partners. There is always more we can do to ensure individuals and families have the supports they need to thrive. As we welcome this New Year, it’s important to remember in 2021 that DHS:
These accomplishments would not be possible without our dedicated staff, community partners, and legislators; local and congressional and State leaders who have continued to support Rhode Island families. Recognizing the ongoing impact of COVID-19, our hearts go out to all those who lost loved ones and faced financial hurdles in 2021, and we want our customers to know that DHS won’t rest until every Rhode Islander has the same opportunities to succeed now and in the future.
That's the one word that immediately comes to mind when we think of the work DHS has accomplished in 2020 during a devastating, life-altering pandemic.
It wasn't perfect and there's much more to do, but #teamDHS stepped up!
With our lobbies closed and staff working from home or safely distanced at our offices, we:
We could list more from all of our teams, including the Office of Child Support Services who led the way to get the necessary Parentage Act approved this year. It went into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.
Again, we accomplished all of this during a global health crisis while simultaneously supporting our amazing leader Governor Raimondo and sister agencies, including RI Department of Education (RIDE), RI Department of Health (RIDOH), and the Department of Children, Youth and Familes (DCYF), with critical equity and COVID-19 measures that are positioning Rhode Island to be better than it was before the pandemic.
Proud may be word that immediately comes to mind, but thankful is right on its heels. We couldn’t think of a better Governor, cabinet colleagues, community partners and staff to have done this work with.
We look forward to accomplishing even more with everyone in 2021!
As 2019 came to a close, it was important to reflect on the agency’s progress as we begin another year. Over the last year, the agency continued its priority work aligned with its seven Guiding Principles. DHS started off the year by opening a new regional office in Middletown, improving its delivery of services to Aquidneck Island customers and strengthening the agency’s partnership with Child & Family. DHS ended the year by successfully transferring the Child Care Licensing Unit from DCYF to the DHS Child Care Assistance Program to strengthen and deliver high-quality child care services and better support the early childhood education workforce
Considerable progress was made with RI Bridges system improvements and lobby operations to support our customers. The agency now has 38% shorter wait times for the DHS Call Center, 92% shorter wait times for recertification interviews via phone, 15% of applications and 32% of all documents are now submitted online. DHS continues to inspire confidence among its customers, represented by a 98% satisfaction rate for the DHS call-in line, and an average score of 4.8 out of 5 (very satisfied).
Additional agency accomplishments over the past year include:
DHS will build on the progress of the past year to continue to provide high-quality customer service to our customers and improve our systems. In looking ahead, DHS will focus its efforts to:
We can only do this critical work because of our dedicated and hard-working staff, along with our community partners, legislators, fellow cabinet leaders, and the Governor. While we should celebrate our progress, we know more work is needed. We share Governor Gina Raimondo’s commitment to help all, reduce poverty and achieve equity.
That is the goal, and like in 2019, we will do it together.