Joint Board Matter With Supervisors Foust, Smith and Palchik
Background: Mr. Chairman, the County’s Health and Human Services Department (HHS) operates a Coordinated Services Planning (CSP) phone number (703-222-0880) which is referred to as the “222 number.” The 222 number provides the public with a single point of access for referral for many critical services including emergency needs for food, shelter, financial assistance, and healthcare. Assistance in multiple languages is available to access critical government and community-based resources. It is an invaluable service provided by the county and, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, it has enabled HHS to do an excellent job of referring the most vulnerable members of our community to the services they need.
I am very grateful for the unprecedented efforts HHS is making to assist the most vulnerable members of our community during these difficult times. As staff is aware, however, there is an area where performance must be improved. Specifically, as demonstrated in the attached “Community Based Organization Coordination Updates” report dated July 8, 2020, the “average speed of answer” for calls to the 222 number, especially for calls to the “Spanish line,” is not acceptable.
While the speed of answer for the 222 number has been troubling for some time, even with implementation of mitigation strategies that were somewhat successful in reducing hold times during May and June, the introduction of the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program clearly overwhelmed the system as shown in the data for the week ending June 28, 2020. Specifically, during that week, the average speed of answer for the English line was over 36 minutes and the average speed of answer for the Spanish line was almost 62 minutes. And these are just the averages, suggesting that many calls are taking even longer to answer. Clearly the volume of calls that is being handled is unprecedented, but it is not likely that we will see a significant drop-off in the call volumes any time soon. And while I understand staff is working on this, given the critical nature of this service, we have the following motion.
Motion: Mr. Chairman, I ask that this Board direct staff to provide the Board with the plan for dramatically and rapidly improving the speed of answer for the 222 number lines, especially the Spanish line, and the status of implementation of that plan. We further move that staff be directed to report back to this Board on this matter by no later than our next meeting on July 28 and identify any additional resources, staffing or other support that would be needed to make this critical service accessible in a more timely way.