2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Katherine A. Holley

Katherine A. Holley

Name of Host Organization: Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati
City, State: Cincinnati, Ohio
Issue area: Education/Special Education
Sponsors: Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation

The Project

Katherine worked to ensure that income and work support benefits were delivered to eligible low-income individuals and families in a timely, efficient, and rule-based manner by providing direct legal services and investigating systemic issues that may be the cause of a decline in the number of eligible beneficiaries receiving Ohio Works First cash benefits.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
In Ohio, the Department of Job and Family Services (DJFS) administers public benefits such as Ohio Works First (OWF) cash benefits, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, and subsidized child care. Each county has its own DJFS office. With the high volume of new SNAP recipients in Ohio and the significant cuts to the funding of DJFS, many counties have experienced significant backlogs and delays in processing applications, higher than normal incidences of lost paperwork, improper recertification processes, and general misapplication of eligibility rules. Individual applicants need legal representation to ensure they receive the benefits for which they are eligible and advocacy to address systemic issues that hinder the timely and accurate processing of applications.
Fellowship Highlights: 
During her Fellowship, Katherine has:
• Provided legal assistance to over 100 clients with public benefits issues
• Represented AmeriCorps members whose publicly funded child care benefits were terminated by DJFS and received a favorable administrative decision regarding a more inclusive definition of what constitutes work activity
• Worked with the Bureau of State Hearings to create a uniform policy for late appearances to state hearings
• Became a Certified Work Incentive Counselor (CWIC) and assisted Social Security benefit recipients in achieving their employment goals
• Worked with local DJFS offices to create a uniform assessment for hardship and good cause extensions for OWF recipients
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Katherine will continue assisting clients with public benefits issues as a Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati.

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