By John Hernandez
Copper Area News
The Mammoth offices of the Department of Economic Security and Child Protective Services will be closing on October 25.
The Mammoth offices service an area from north Tucson to Hayden that includes the communities of Eagle Crest, Oracle, San Manuel, Mammoth, Aravaipa, and Dudleyville. They also cover the area between Florence and Oracle Junction which includes people living near Park Link.
The impending closures will place a hardship on clients who will now be forced to travel to either Kearny or Globe depending on the services they need. It will also mean current employees will be driving further to new assignments in both towns. Some of the employees already drive to Mammoth from Tucson and will have a much longer commute.
The Child Protective Services will be moving to Kearny. Other services including Nutrition Assistance (formerly the food stamp program) will relocate to Globe. The nearest Family Assistance Administration (FAA) office would be in Tucson at the Wetmore and First Avenue office. The FAA administers Nutrition Assistance (formerly the Food Stamp program), AHCCCS (medical care), Cash Assistance, The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the State Assistance programs.
The people who use FAA services must now travel to Globe or Tucson for assistance. This will put a hardship on many families that do not own a dependable vehicle and add to their expenditures the price of gas. There are no plans for transportation services or satellite offices.
The Town of Mammoth offered space for a kiosk that they believed would be used as a satellite office. But plans are that it will only be a space for a computer that clients may access. Although many services can be signed up for and accessed through use of a computer, many clients are not computer literate and the forms can be difficult to understand. There is also a number of Spanish speaking clients who may have trouble with the forms without someone to answer questions or help them.
Francis Wickham of Mammoth has been working to find out what is going on with the closures and to prevent them from closing if possible. She invited Barbara McGuire, Leah Taylor Landrum and Pinal County Supervisor Pete Rios to Mammoth to tour the Town of Mammoth and the DES/CPS offices. They came and spoke with available employees and to members of the Mammoth Seniors about the impending closures. Francis also spoke with Senator Al Melvin from District 11, George Evanhoff and other members from the Governor’s Advisory Council on Aging. They showed genuine concern but did not offer any solutions.
Francis and others in Mammoth would like to see a letter writing campaign started by those families that will be negatively impacted by the changes and those people that are concerned about the less fortunate in Pinal County. People should write or call their State Senator, Representatives, Senate and House Leaders and/or the Director of DES Clarence H. Carter.
Arizona’s poverty rate in 2012 was 18.7 percent ranking it as the eighth highest rate in the nation and above the national average of 15.9 percent.