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DHHS Steps In to Ease County Backlogs for FNS Claims


For Immediate Release
Monday, September 23, 2013

Raleigh, N.C. - The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services continues to take proactive steps to help families and individuals who are waiting for food stamp assistance because of unprocessed applications and recertifications for food and nutrition service (FNS) benefits. Today, training sessions are underway for additional staff to supplement on-site and help desk support for counties. In addition to the new staff, all counties have been given the option to send outstanding cases to Raleigh, where a specially trained DHHS team has begun processing and entering them into the NC FAST system. Within the first five days, more than 2,100 recertification cases had been processed.

"We are committed to working with our county partners to see that individuals get the benefits for which they are eligible," said DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos. "This new system represents a huge change from the way counties have done business for decades. We are all working toward a common goal of better, more efficient services for the people of North Carolina."

DHHS is bringing a total of more than 160 temporary employees onto the NC FAST team to augment existing support staff that have been deployed to the counties. With this additional staff, the state will offer at least one support staff in every county, with no additional cost to taxpayers as the cost will be absorbed within the existing project budget.

DHHS staff is working in tandem with counties across the state to transform an outdated patchwork of IT platforms to a single paperless case management system that will ultimately determine and administer social services and Medicaid benefits for more than one million North Carolina individuals and families in need. As of September 20, NC FAST had processed 718,897 cases that issued $185,521,989 in September FNS benefits.

Secretary Wos visited DSS offices in Buncombe, Madison and Catawba counties last week to thank county staff for their continued work on NC FAST implementation. She spoke with them about their transition to a "universal worker" system, in which clients will interact with a single case worker to determine eligibility for all programs, and acknowledged the support from elected officials in ensuring the program's success.

"Our employees appreciate the Secretary's interest in their experience with NC FAST and her understanding of the challenges we continue to face," said John Eller, director of Catawba County Social Services. "We are seeing daily improvements in processing cases and are optimistic about the long-term benefits of this system for our staff and our clients."

NC FAST is an acronym for North Carolina Families Accessing Services through Technology. It is a software tool designed to improve the way the NC Department of Health and Human Services and county departments of social services do business. When completely implemented, NC FAST will have replaced 19 legacy systems used by the counties with a single uniform method to determine eligibility and provide comprehensive case management for families in need of county-administered state-supported services such as FNS, Medicaid, Low-Income Energy Assistance, Crisis Intervention and Child Care.


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