Clark County Job and Family Services sees long wait times, uptick in people in need

Director Virginia Martycz emphasized that no one is turned away.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Clark County Department of Job and Family Services has been inundated with people seeking assistance with areas such as food, finances, Medicaid, childcare and transportation, with long wait times and an often full lobby.

DJFS Director Virginia Martycz said while the office is open, the lobby is never closed, but when it is full, staff will limit the number of people who can wait there. She said they will allow more people inside as others leave, for safety and comfort reasons.

“We made our lobby smaller during COVID, and that was based on what our average foot traffic had been before the pandemic,” Martycz said.

While the department has started seeing more Haitian immigrants seeking services, the volume of overall clients has increased significantly as well, Martycz said.

“Sometimes there will be like 40 people crammed into that room (the lobby); you don’t want any more people in there, so we are not permitting them to go in until others come out,” Martycz said.

The lobby is not full all the time, and staff monitors to ensure everyone is being helped, Martycz said. She said no one is denied services for the department being “too busy.”

Kevin Cobb said he went to DJFS last week and waited about 40 or 50 minutes, which he said is the shortest time he has ever waited. In one instance, he said he arrived at 8:30 a.m. and left around 12:45 p.m.

Cobb said he thinks the issue is DJFS does not have enough staff to handle the influx of Haitian immigrants. He said the need for interpretation and translation services increases the time each customer takes.

DJFS is fully staffed, Martycz said.

“We’re just strategically letting people in and out at different times based upon the flow,” Martycz said.

Martycz said DJFS is starting to see more cases in which Haitian immigrants come in having all documentation necessary for assistance. This makes helping them easier and more efficient.

DJFS is also starting to see an overall uptick in people seeking assistance, Martycz said. She said updated data will be available later this month.

This comes at a time local leaders have said more people are experiencing homelessness during a time in which there is a shortage of housing.

Near the end of 2023, Haitian immigrants made up a small percentage of DJFS’ total caseload, with 6% of the 49,651 people receiving Medicaid in Clark County in September being non-citizens. This represents a significant growth from five years prior, though, with only seven cases of Haitians on the county’s public assistance, compared to 2,705 cases in September.

“Some of our constituents who may get a little bit taken aback that they would have to wait behind someone from another country, know that we’re all going to show grace and wait on people,” Martycz said.

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