The Department of Social Services represents a large portion of the county’s budget and total nu

The Department of Social Services represents a large portion of the county's budget and total number of employees. The job class of eligibility techni­cian (ET) is directly responsible for all client contact, policy interpreta­tion, and financial decisions related to several forms of public aid (e.g., ADC, Food Stamps, and General Relief). The County of San Capestrano has 1,100 budgeted ET positions and hires approximately 200 ETs each year. Once hired, they are enrolled in an extensive eight‑week training program intended to familiarize them with legal statutes, procedural guide­lines, and report/documentation preparation. The program costs approxi­mately $10,000 per trainee.

ETs are faced with having to read a large amount of correspondence, including internal memos, announcements of new and revised policies and procedures, on a daily basis. ETs were complaining that they had difficulty reading and responding to the large amounts of correspondence. For an additional $100 per technician, a speed‑reading module could be added to the existing training program. You decided that the money would be well spent and added the speed‑reading module to the new technician training program.

Preliminary evaluation of the speed-reading module was that trainees liked it. Speed‑reading tests administered before and after training showed that, on average, reading speeds increased 200 percent with no loss in comprehension.

Two months after the last session, you informally asked some of the technicians you supervise who had completed the speed reading module if they were using the speed‑reading principles on the job. They said they were not using them at work, but did use it in their leisure reading at home. When you asked them about using it on the job, the typical response was “I never read those memos and policy announcements anyway!”

Note: Job description for eligibility technicians is provided after the questions fyi.


1.     How would you evaluate the effectiveness of the speed‑reading program? Was this training a waste of money?

2.     What should have been done to insure that the speed‑reading program was necessary?

3.     What could you do to get the technicians to use the speed‑reading principles on their jobs?

Interviews applicants or recipients to determine eligibility for public assis­tance; interprets and explains rules and regulations governing eligibility and grants, methods of payment, and legal rights to applicant or recipient; records and evaluates personal and financial data obtained from applicant or recipient to determine initial or continuing eligibility according to department objectives; initiates procedures to grant, modify, deny, or termi­nate eligibility and grants for various aid programs, various aid programs, such as public welfare, employment, and medical assistance; authorizes amounts of grants, based on determination of eligibility for amount of money payments, food stamps, medical care, or other general assistance; identifies need for social services and makes referrals to various agencies and community resources available; prepares regular and special reports as required and submits individual recommendations for consideration by supervisor; and prepares and keeps records of assigned cases.


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