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Department of Human Services

For Immediate Release

Sonoma County Human Services Department actively working to shorten wait times for people seeking aid

SANTA ROSA, CA | July 31, 2023

En español »

Officials for the Sonoma County Human Services Department are asking for the public’s patience when applying for CalFresh and Medi-Cal benefits. Numerous challenges are causing delays in processing benefits, including increased staffing vacancies, the transition to a new state-mandated software system, and efforts to address a recent surge in electronic benefits theft.

People applying for food or medical benefits are experiencing unusually long wait times when seeking in-person assistance at the Economic Assistance office in Santa Rosa, located at 2550 Paulin Drive, or when calling the service center at (877) 699-6868. Residents are strongly encouraged to apply online at if they have access to a computer and the internet.

“I want to thank the public for their patience during this time and apologize for the service delays,” said Angela Struckmann, director of the Human Services Department. “We know that wait times to speak to a worker can be several hours right now and we are working diligently to address the challenges that have caused these delays.” 

The Human Services Department is in the process of hiring up to 30 new eligibility specialists who are scheduled to start by Oct. 31. Filling vacant positions has been delayed while the department migrates to the state’s new California Statewide Automated Welfare System, which will go live on Sept. 5. Human Services staff began intensive training on the new system in June, further reducing the number of workers available to assist the public.

Long wait times to speak with an eligibility specialist have been exacerbated by a statewide wave of electronic benefits thefts that recently surged in Sonoma County. The increase in criminal activity has required the Human Services Department to divert staff to help recipients recover money stolen from their electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards. Since June, individuals in Sonoma County have reported losing more than $627,000 to scammers and Human Services staff have helped replace over $400,000 in stolen benefits so far.

Human Services provides health, medical and economic assistance to approximately 160,000 people in Sonoma County, or one in three residents of the county. Staff at the Santa Rosa Economic Assistance offices are currently fielding 800 telephone calls daily and serving close to 300 people in the lobby. 

“I want to acknowledge the hard work of our Human Services team,” Struckmann said. “They are shouldering a massive workload and I am grateful for their passion and dedication to serving the public as we work through these issues. While this work can be challenging, it is very rewarding to support our community and we encourage people to consider a career with us.”

Human Services will begin accepting applications in January for additional openings on its Economic Assistance team. View a list of current job openings with the county or sign up for the next Start Here class, which teaches prospective applicants how to navigate the county’s hiring process.

Media Contacts:

Ted Appel, Communications Specialist
County Administrator’s Office
(707) 565-3040

Kristen Font, Communications Manager
Human Services Department
(707) 565-8085