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Coronavirus in Florida

DCF to close all storefronts amid coronavirus outbreak, pushes Floridians to use online portal

Those without internet access can also apply over the phone or via drop boxes at those storefronts.

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is announcing the closing of “all storefronts and lobbies” as government agencies and private businesses continue to limit public interaction during the coronavirus pandemic.

The closures were described as “temporary,” though the agency has not publicly set a target date to reopen.

Those looking to apply for benefits with the agency — such as food assistance (SNAP), cash assistance (TANF) or Medicaid — can do so online at the DCF’s website. Those seeking to call the agency can find the relevant numbers listed at that DCF web page.

For individuals without internet or phone access, the agency is also setting up drop boxes at existing storefronts. “These drop boxes will be monitored and checked throughout the day to process information timely,” the agency said.

DCF Secretary Chad Poppell says the vast majority of those seeking benefits already do so online or by phone, which should allow for a smooth transition for most.

DCF serves as the gatekeeper that helps with initial eligibility determinations for the programs. Poppell said the department will handle initial eligibility interviews over the phone.

“With more than 90 percent of our customers filing for benefits online or by phone, closing our storefronts to protect our employees and the public is the right thing to do,” Poppell said.

“The quickest way to make changes or check the status of a client’s benefits, and avoid any wait time, is to use the ACCESS Self-Service Portal, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

The move comes after President Donald Trump issued recommendations to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people through the end of March.

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The News Service of Florida contributed to this post.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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