Department Of Human Services To Reopen County Assistance Offices To The Public, Encourages Continued Use Of Online Services
The Department of Human Services has announced that all County Assistance Offices (CAO) will resume in-person operations for clients on July 12, 2021. On-site CAO services will provide clients with access to DHS’ caseworkers and services if they cannot access online services or need assistance that cannot be accessed through the COMPASS website, the myCOMPASS PA mobile app, or by calling the Customer Service Center.
“No one should be forgoing services that help them live well and meet essential needs, so whether you visit a CAO in-person or access services via our website and mobile app, DHS is here to help you. I want to thank everyone for their patience while our CAOs were closed to in-person services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Acting DHS Secretary Meg Snead. “Because our clients were able to access services online, we had the opportunity to keep the public and our staff safe from COVID-19 while still providing access to health care, food, and other essential needs to those who needed them. However, our CAOs are still a vital local resource for Pennsylvanians who need assistance, so we are pleased to be able to resume in-person services on July 12.”
The CAOs will be following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pennsylvania Department of Health to ensure the health and safety of clients and staff. While CAOs will not require masks to be worn inside at all times, visitors who are not vaccinated or who prefer to wear masks are encouraged to do so.
DHS’ online applications and resources will remain accessible at www.compass.pa.state.us and the myCOMPASS PA mobile app, and clients are still encouraged to use online and mobile services whenever possible. Clients can apply for benefits, make updates to their case, and submit paperwork virtually. The following key services can be accessed online without going into a CAO:
- Apply for Medical Assistance, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, cash assistance, Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
- Find out how to apply for Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) benefits;
- Submit benefit renewal information;
- Review benefits and case record information;
- Report a change in case information; and,
- Upload verification documents.
The best way for residents to learn more information about ERAP and to apply for the program is through www.compass.pa.state.us. Two-thirds of Pennsylvania counties have partnered with DHS to make their ERAP applications available to their residents online. If a person tries to apply through the COMPASS website but indicates that they reside in one of the 22 counties with its own application, they will be provided with information about how to apply, including a link to the county application if available. ERAP applications are not accepted or processed in-person at CAOs, so Pennsylvanians should continue to use COMPASS to apply for rental and utility assistance through ERAP.
Assistance can also be reached over the phone by contacting the Customer Service Centers where caseworkers are available to speak directly with callers to answer questions. Clients in Philadelphia with questions, information to report about their case, or who need a paper application mailed to them should call the Philadelphia Customer Service Center at 215-560-7226. Clients in all other counties can call the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930.