Affected by the federal government furlough? Resources growing in Fairfax County to help those in need

Alan Fogg, afogg@fceda.org, 703-790-0600 (o); 571-213-5065 (m)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Fairfax County, Virginia – The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) is aware of the impact that the ongoing partial federal government shutdown is having on businesses, large and small, individuals and all who live and work in Fairfax County. Fortunately, the county and organizations are stepping up to meet the needs of those most affected.

“The response of Fairfax County and the reaction from of our businesses illustrate our strength as a community,” said FCEDA Interim President Catherine Riley.

To date, Fairfax County operations have not been affected by the shutdown. Health and Human Services agencies are continuing to operate as normal to connect families and individuals to county and community-based resources that assist them in meeting needs including food, utilities and rent. Private corporations have also stepped up.

The FCEDA has compiled a list of resources for those impacted by the shutdown.

What governments and organizations are doing

  • Hotline available for assistance: Individuals in need can contact Fairfax County’s Coordinated Services Planning staff at 703-222-0880 (TTY 711) for assistance in connecting to resources.  This service is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The multilingual staff can assist callers in multiple foreign languages.
  • Unemployment benefits: Federal government employees who have been separated from their job due to the shutdown and have questions about unemployment benefits should contact the Virginia Employment Commission. The phone number for the Customer Contact Center is 866-832-2263.
  • Free lunch program:  Fairfax County Public Schools announced on Jan. 8 that meals for breakfast and lunch will be provided to all students regardless of their ability to pay, and unpaid balances will be allowed to build up without immediate repercussions for the duration of the shutdown.

Teaching hires: Fairfax County Public Schools are recruiting furloughed federal employees to work as substitute teachers. A hiring event is scheduled for Jan. 23 in Falls Church. Additional information can be found online.

  • Northern Virginia Community College: NOVA’s Workforce and Economic Development Office is offering a free (non-credit) class to furloughed federal employees and contractors. Employees can choose from select Business & Management, IT & Computer Skills, and Professional Development classes. Some of the classes have prerequisites and proof of federal employment is required. Call 703-878-5770 or visit the web site for further information.
  • George Mason University workshop:  GMU’s Office of Executive and Professional Education and Center for the Advancement of Well-Being are offering a free leadership-training workshop for furloughed federal employees on January 18. Registration is requested and a federal ID is required.
  • Child Care Assistance and Referral Program: For families participating in the CCAR program that signed on with a 12-month eligibility. Those without income can request that child care co-payments be lowered. CCAR staff are available to speak with families to discuss their ongoing child care needs. Call 703-449-8484 or email DFSccarinfo@fairfaxcounty.gov.
  • School Age Child Care: Families impacted by the federal government shutdown may continue to use services and apply for a reduced fee and/or develop a payment plan as needed. Alternatively, families may request to be placed in a temporary inactive status, which allows the family to discontinue services temporarily while maintaining their child’s enrollment space in SACC. Call 703-449-8989 or email saccregistration@fairfaxcounty.gov.
  • SNAP (food stamps) recipients will receive their February food benefits in January. No benefits will be issued in February. SNAP recipients are encouraged to carefully plan their shopping accordinlgy. Contact the Enterprise Customer Service Center at 1-855-635-4370 or the Fairfax County Department of Family Services at 703-324-7500 with questions.
  • Free Connector Bus Rides: Fairfax Connector will provide free rides system-wide for federal government employees affected by the government shutdown who are still required to report for work. Eligible riders must present a federal photo ID to the bus operator. For bus schedules and route information, estimated arrival times, and more: Sign-up for email and/or text alerts for your routes through Fairfax Connector BusTracker.
  • Pet Supplies: The Animal Shelter has pet food and limited other pet supplies available for furloughed federal employees. The supplies are available during shelter business hours and no is appointment needed. For more information, call 703-830-1100 or email animalshelter@fairfaxcounty.gov.

What companies are doing

Below is a sampling of what some companies, according to media reports, are doing to assist those impacted by the government shutdown.

  • AT&T said it is offering flexible payment plans to federal workers affected by the closure.
  • Sprint: Reps will coordinate with qualified customers to find a payment option. Impacted customers should call 888-211-4727 or chat online at www.sprint.com.
  • T-Mobile: Short-term account assistance including payment deferral is being offered. Call 877-746-0909.
  •  Verizon: The company announced flexible payment options and a "Promise to Pay" program that can be set up via the My Verizon app. Call 866-266-1445.
  • Washington Gas will offer flexible payment arrangements for government employees directly impacted” by the shutdown. Programs include payment deferments, budget plans and help through a fuel assistance fund. Call 1-844-WASHGAS.
  • Dominion Energy has options for energy assistance, including budget billing and programs offered through the Virginia Department of Social Services. Customers can call 866-366-4357.
  • Navy Federal Credit Union will cover pay for its eligible members via interest-free loans up to $6,000.
  • Pentagon Federal Credit Union is offering the possibility to skip a payment, direct deposit assistance and a furlough loan product.
  • Kriser’s Natural Pet is offering free food to furloughed government employees.
  •  29 Diner is partnering with several Fairfax County employee unions to provide free meals.

Additional resources

  • The web page: Financial Resources for Federal Employees -- Shutdown 2019, offers a long list of links across many categories including federal benefits, banks, mental health, transportation and things to do.
  • Fairfax County’s Office of Consumer Affairs has compiled tips and information to assist with: tenant-landlord issues, mortgages and credit cards, credit bureaus, donating to charities, paying your phone and utility bills.
  • WTOP’s blog page has a long list of offers and discounts being offered by local businesses to furloughed employees.
  • The Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB), per the American Psychological Association, has a web page offering advice to cope with uncertainty during the government shutdown.

Ways to Help:

  • Stuff the Bus events: Begins Saturday, Jan. 19. Bring your food and cash donations and help Fairfax County feed the hungry by supporting local nonprofit food pantries as they work to provide assistance for individuals and families in need.
  • Human Services Guide: The county encourages residents to contact local nonprofits for information on providing donations. See the Human Services Guide for descriptions and contact information.
  • Capital Area Food Bank
  • Cornerstones
  • Lorton Community Action CenterUnited Family Ministries
  • Visit Fairfax County’s NewsCenter for more information.

Time magazine called Fairfax County “one of the great economic success stories of our time.” Business growth and innovation help Fairfax County fund the nation’s top-rated school system and other public services that contribute to the quality of life of residents. Fairfax County offers businesses a state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure, access to global markets through Washington Dulles International Airport, a vibrant investment capital community and a highly skilled, well-educated workforce.

The award-winning Fairfax County Economic Development Authority promotes Fairfax County as a business and technology center. The FCEDA offers site location and business development assistance, and connections with county and state government agencies, to help companies locate and expand in Fairfax County. In addition to its headquarters in Tysons Corner, Fairfax County’s largest business district, the FCEDA maintains marketing offices in six important global business centers: Bangalore, Berlin, London, Los Angeles, Seoul and Tel Aviv. Follow the FCEDA on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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