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The Heat Is On -- For Some Lucky Families

January 20, 2011

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. - When residents of New Britain come to the Human Resources Agency (HRA) seeking help to pay their heating bills, a new computer program makes figuring out their eligibility a snap - and it's available statewide. HRA Director of Community Services Barbara Parsons says her agency has done a test run of the Automated Benefits Calculator with great success.

"You can automatically give them some results to see if they're eligible for other programs, too. It's very easy to do - it's easy for the client, it's easy for our workers and it's quick."

Because the calculator checks for potential eligibility for other social service programs, Parsons says workers have found that many applicants for heating fuel also turned out to be eligible for food stamps, but they hadn't thought of applying.

"There's a nice print-out with all the information for the clients. And we've gotten a good response."

The calculator has been used to assist more than 100 clients so far. It can be found on the new website of the Connecticut Association for Community Action, www.cafca.org.

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT