Many District residents attempting to get in touch with major social service programs have been unable to reach caseworkers since last Friday, when the programs' offices were moved into new buildings and telephone service was disrupted.
Administrative offices for the District's social service apparatus, along with programs including homemaker chore services for the elderly and child day care, were moved from 122 C St. NW into the Randall School building at Second and I streets SW, where business was conducted with only two temporary phone lines yesterday.
There was also sporadic telephone service for the child protective services, foster care, adoption and food stamp programs, whose caseworkers were moved from the C Street site to 500 First St. NW. Those phone numbers will remain the same, but there were delays in moving the telephones.
Virgil McDonald, chief of administrative services for the D.C. Department of Human Services, said that the workers were moved to save the $1.6 million annual rent the city has been paying on the C Street site. The city owns the Randall School building and already has other workers at the First Street site.
Meanwhile, however, clients who tried to reach the caseworkers and administrators through their old telephone numbers at the C Street offices often encountered phones that went unanswered.
Thoughout the day, some workers stayed behind at the old building to try to answer the phones and took handfuls of yellow message slips to Randall School. Eventually, recordings on the old C Street numbers will redirect calls to the school and social workers will send letters to their clients advising them of the change, officials said.
Annie Goodson, administrator of family services, watched over the temporary phones at the school yesterday and repeatedly summoned staff members to the principal's office via intercom to receive calls.
"It's madness," said Social Services Commissioner Audrey Rowe, as she surveyed the movement of furniture through the second-floor hallway outside her new office at the school. The school, parts of which date back to the early 1920s, is a sprawling maze composed of seven different wings, and Rowe said she has high hopes for consolidating city social service programs there.