My name is Raina. I've received TANF (cash assistance) from the Department of Human Services (DHS) since April, as I am a single mother of one. In July, DHS required me to apply for Unemployment benefits. While awaiting my approval or denial, DHS presented me with a wonderful opportunity to work for Lane County Animal Services (LCAS) through the JOBS Plus program. I would be a Lane County employee, and would be working with animals. Working with animals is my dream career, and this opportunity would be my first step toward the rest of my life. It would be the first animal job listed on my resume, and for Lane County of all places! I had my interview with Rick Hammel, the manager at LCAS, on August 11th, and he approved me for the job. I left LCAS with excitement and anxiety and couldn't beleive that I was finally getting an opportunity like this one. Things were finally looking up for me in the job market.
I drove directly to Oregon Employment Office to complete my steps for applying for Unemployment benefits. It seems I had been approved by the end of my appointment. As I sat there, toward the end of my visit I received a phonecall from DHS. The voice at the other end said something along the lines of "I have bad news...If you're approved for Unemployment benefits, then you lose your TANF and cannot go work for LCAS." I felt sad and angry at the same time. For days after that, everybody I talked to about my issue basically said the same thing; Oregon law is Oregon law. They do not look at each case indiviually, it is black and white. This is just plain wrong!
Keep in mind that I would only be employed by LCAS because it was through a program with DHS. LCAS was not hiring at the time, and they wouldn't for a while because they had experienced budget cuts.
I am not just another client of DHS who receives free money and doesn't really want to work. I have been job-searching for quite a while and I actually WANT to work. When I get the opportunity to work AND be on my way to my career, it gets taken away, and for fifty extra dollars per month that I don't want. In my case, I shouldn't have had to apply for Unemployment when I had an actual job lined up. The two government agencies should have been working together to figure out what was in the best interest of me. Better yet, I should be able to tell them what is in the best interest of me. They should not be able to choose for me.