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Newsday: New York State Department of Labor receives $9.1M grant to make accessing unemployment services easier

NYLAG’s Ciara Farrell spoke with Newsday about new federal grant funding to improve the state’s unemployment insurance system and reduce barriers for underserved residents.

“Advocates for underserved communities struggling to secure unemployment benefits said the funding is good news, but questions on implementation remain. 

“‘How they use this is going to be crucial,’ said Ciara Farrell, a volunteer attorney with the New York Legal Assistance Group, a nonprofit providing free civil legal services to low-income New Yorkers. 

“The state’s unemployment system is more than halfway through a major, four-year technology upgrade to its unemployment filing process, nearly three years after mass pandemic layoffs pushed the system to its breaking point.

“And while those changes, coupled with language translation features, are making the online tools easier to use for claimants, Farrell said when it comes to reaching poor, immigrant communities or individuals with disabilities who should qualify for benefits, the state needs to invest more in on-the-ground outreach and services. 

“’They don’t have a presence in these communities,’ Farrell said. ‘Claimants have to know those services exist.'”

Read the full piece by Victor Ocasio in Newsday from January 19, 2023.

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