During a recent strike, CSEA managers realized the need for a more personal touch.
WARREN -- Callers to the Trumbull County Child Support Enforcement Agency should prepare for something different.
Beginning next week, someone will actually answer the phone.
Six workers at the county agency have been assigned to work at a call center. Direct phone lines to caseworkers will be discontinued, officials say.
People with business at CSEA now call caseworkers directly, often getting a voice mail message promising to return their call within 24 hours.
The agency handles child support cases for about 14,000 families.
'Customer care': "Basically, what we want to convey is customer care," said John Mintus, an administrative officer. "We don't want to give the impression that we are the only people in this business, and I don't want people to think that we are going to do it our way or no way."
Workers in the call center will have terminals connected to the state computer system, allowing them to give quick answers about when checks will be mailed or how much support is due.
They will also be able to adjust records to reflect job changes, moves and layoffs. Making these changes with the client over the phone will increase efficiency, he said.
"Changes like that take only a couple of seconds," he said. "If it gets on the voice mail, then the caseworker gets it, it is going to take a while for it to happen.
Before strike: The change had been contemplated even before 12 managers at the agency tried to fill the shoes of 55 union employees during a four-week strike, which was settled in November, Mintus said.
"During the strike we started to answer the calls, and we realized that something needed to be provided," he said."The personal touch."