Department of Social Services Announces Launch of Pilot Texting Program for Communications with SNAP Recipients
HARTFORD, CT – The Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) announced today that starting in January it will pilot a texting system which will allow DSS to send reminder messages to individuals participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The goal of the pilot program is to test the viability of text messages as a more efficient, equitable, and direct method for DSS to communicate with individuals who receive SNAP benefits.
SNAP recipients who need to renew their benefits will be sent text messages reminding them to submit their renewal forms and directing them to where they can take action. All text messages in the pilot will come from the DSS Benefits Center phone number (855-626-6632).
The pilot program is part of a partnership between DSS, the Department of Administrative Services Bureau of Information Technology Solutions (DAS/BITS), and Code for America, a nonprofit that helps government leverage technology to make public services more accessible and equitable. It is the first step in a larger effort by DSS, DAS/BITS, and Code for America to increase participation in SNAP by bringing a user-centered, equity lens to improving the reporting experience and finding solutions that help families more easily maintain SNAP benefits.
“Communications with our benefits recipients have always been a high priority for DSS, but also one of our greatest challenges. Our hope is that this texting pilot program will open up a new, more effective and efficient way for us to provide a greater number of our SNAP recipients with timely information regarding their benefits, and that this message notification system, if successful, can be broadened to include individuals who receive other benefits from DSS,” said DSS Commissioner Deidre Gifford.
“This partnership between DSS, DAS/BITS, and Code for America will be critical in helping DSS, and if successful, other state agencies, to use technology to reach the greatest number of state residents possible,” said Daniel Giacomi, DSS SNAP Director. “People move around, some don’t use email, some don’t watch TV, but these days everyone has a cell phone. Texting is a logical way for the State to communicate with residents.”
“Texting is integral to delivering public benefits in the digital age. Our work on safety net programs across the nation has found many SNAP recipients prefer receiving texts about their benefits. Sending these texts can also reduce churn, which happens when eligible clients lose benefits and reapply shortly thereafter,” said Code for America Chief Technology Officer Lou Moore. “We applaud the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) for putting peoples’ needs first. This thoughtful use of technology makes for government systems that are simple, accessible and equitable. This gets to the heart of our work, and we’re excited to be partnering with DSS as we advance this mission.”