Positive growth in Tulare County

TULARE COUNTY, California

Supervisors also voted to eliminate 16 positions from the Workforce Investment Board (W.I.B.).

The money to add these new positions is coming from state and federal welfare grants.

Some of these positions will be filled by former county workers who were laid off last year.

Tulare County residents who rely on food stamps and financial help said they usually wait hours inside the 'Tulare Works' building.

Resident Salvador Oviedo: "It was a really long wait. I was here at 8 and now it's 2 o'clock."

The director of the Health and Human Services Agency said the long lines started after a reduction in staff and a 42% increase in cases over the last three years.

"There's a game to be played between being careful and judicious about adding staff and at the same time adding them so we don't increase our error rates, we meet our people in the time that we're mandated to do so," said Director John Davis.

Tuesday morning Davis asked the Tulare County Board of Supervisors to approve 117 new positions for his department ... funded exclusively by state and federal dollars.

Davis said to the board: "We will be back to the level we were at three years ago in staffing."

Supervisor Phil Cox said: "This is good news/ bad news. The good news is we're able to bring back and build up our work force. The bad news is this is being caused by the downturn in the economy."

The decision to approve the jobs was quick and unanimous.

The board also voted unanimously to eliminate 16 case manager and office assistant positions from the Tulare County Workforce Investment Board, a group that helps unemployed residents get back into school for training.

"We will face the issues of higher caseloads. Fewer people to work with ... more individuals that are out of work," said executive director Adam Peck.

Peck added federal funding ran out to support the positions. However Peck came up with a plan to create five new jobs that the laid off workers could apply for.

Peck: "The expectation is for many of the skills needed that we are adding that the employees within the current positions may have the qualifications to fill those jobs."

The timing of these new jobs was important. Director Davis said if he did not hire more employees to accommodate the increased caseload the government could have fined, sanctioned and eventually reduced grant money to the county.

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