In Roswell, NM one of our biggest challenges is communicating with the parents in their language. With that being the case, I have had all our letters translated into Spanish and when the mailings go out they are in both English and in Spanish.
- The Notices are mailed out on October 1st and go out Certified Return Receipt, which helps me to know that someone in the household received and signed for the Notice. Our parents have a full 30 days to respond.
- After a few days, I begin to make phone calls to the households to see if they have any questions and also to remind them of the deadline and the result of failing to reply. It is at this time I also explain to them about being able to “refuse” benefits if their circumstances have changed since filling out the application.
- I keep a file with copies of all the notices, reminder letters and notes of calls made in my Verification Folder to have in case an Auditor asks.
- Every 10 days I mail out the notice via regular mail as a reminder that I have not heard from them and that the deadline is approaching. Each time the notice goes out it has a different heading in a different color, so the parents can tell which notice they are reading and to let them know I am tracking the responses.
- I continue to make calls weekly to any who have not responded. I also research all student files to be sure I am calling all the current numbers listed for the child, as many times the numbers on the applications are no longer good when we begin to call.
- I also have someone who can translate for me if I reach a household that does not speak English.
Since I have started these practices, I have increased our response rate dramatically, from about 50% to now almost 90% with one year reaching 100%.