Financial Relief – Partnership and Shared Responsibility
There are various reasons that result in the financial relief department constantly engaging in dilemmas regarding the majority of cases that are referred to Jewish Community Services. In our assessment, we have noted that a person’s financial circumstances can have a significant effect on the individual’s wellbeing and ability to function. We have noted that when a person approaches JCS for financial assistance it is often their last resort and can be a very humiliating decision.
The process of a financial assessment involves a client first consulting with the intake social worker (if the client is a new client at JCS) and/ or consulting with his/ her attending social worker. The matter will then be referred to the financial relief coordinator to conduct a financial assessment. A financial assessment includes a detailed analysis of the client’s financial circumstances; documented proof of Jewishness and signed consent to contact family members and significant others.
The policy of JCS requires that a panel review be arranged if there are family members and significant others. The purpose of the panel review is to form a financial partnership with the family and significant others of the client in order to assist the client with their shortfall for a temporary period of time during which long-term financial security and independent functioning are facilitated through social work intervention services. This enables JCS, together with the family and significant others, to determine the amount each will contribute in order to serve the best interest of the client during this difficult time of their lives.
It is further the policy of JCS to explore all resources e.g. UIF, social grants (disability grants and old aged pensions) to assist the client in need.
The assistance, if so authorised, is limited to provisions for basic needs, i.e. accommodation and food.
In order to assess an individual’s needs for financial assistance, JCS have certain criteria which need to be met before a decision is made to disburse community funds.
In addition, clients who have the capacity to obtain gainful employment are assisted at a lower level and for a temporary period of time as opposed to those, who for various reasons do not have the capacity i.e. ill health, disability etc. In this way, we attempt to empower clients by mobilizing all their resources to facilitate independent functioning and to prevent dependency.
In light of this, it is vital to understand that more effort goes into the assessment and management of each case than is maybe perceived.
Of note is the fact that JCS again increased the relief criteria with effect from 2016. The increased criteria have impacted significantly on the amount disbursed for financial relief. The new criteria have also been structured in such a way as to allow assistance provided to be tailor-made to cater to the unique circumstances of individuals and families.
JCS pays out a substantial amount on a monthly basis to assist individuals and families in need. JCS carries a monthly caseload of approximately 450 cases. A third of these cases involve a component of financial relief. This disbursement of funds by JCS places an increased burden on the organization in order to ensure that the safety and well-being of those vulnerable members of our community are met.
We wish to thank those family members and significant others who have taken responsibility and formed positive partnerships with JCS.