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NC FAST will improve the way social service benefits are administered

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For Immediate Release
Friday, February 7, 2014
Contact: news@dhhs.nc.gov
              919-855-4840

NOW:

"NC FAST is a radical transformation from the way we've done it in the past," [Buncombe County Director of Human Services Budget Team Jim] Holland said. "We believe it is the right way to do business. There is a cost to that."

SOURCE: Lynn Bonner, "NC counties receive staffing help to get through food stamp backlog," News & Observer, January 30, 2014.

"I am extremely proud of the collaboration between our DHHS staff, county DSS agencies, county administrators and the General Assembly to see that families are getting the help they need," said DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos. "We have been pushing toward the February 10 deadline from the federal government, but that is only our first hurdle. Our long-term goal is to help counties plan for sustainable and timely processing as we move forward."

SOURCE: "State DHHS, Counties Push to Meet USDA Milestone," DHHS Press Release, February 3, 2014.

"Since 2002, our FNS caseload has quadrupled, but we have not added staff to meet the demand," said Joe Raymond, director of Forsyth County Social Services. "The data we are now getting through NC FAST is helping us prioritize our work and increase productivity."

SOURCE: "FNS Update: Counties, State Work to Maintain Productivity," DHHS Press Release, February 5, 2014.

THEN:

"Overall, this changes how we've done business in the past, but it's a change for the good," [Gates County DSS Director Geoffrey] Marett remarked. "It better benefits our clients and our DSS personnel."

SOURCE: Cal Bryant, "NC FAST underway," Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, August 29, 2012.

The current system is outdated and prevents counties from accessing information from other departments across the state, [Angelina] Noel, [Lee County's Work First, daycare and fraud supervisor] said. Other state eligibility programs will eventually use the same system, she said.

SOURCE: "Food & Nutrition Program: Food stamp applicants to see longer wait times," Sanford Herald, July 24, 2012.

The file room at the Johnston County Department of Social Services is no longer crowded. Shelves once full of file boxes are nearly empty, one benefit of a new computerized record-keeping system. . . . Earl Marett, director of the Johnston County Department of Social Services, one of four counties that tested NC FAST, said the new record-keeping system would provide substantial cost savings to local governments in the long term.

SOURCE: Derek, Quizon, "NC DHHS rolling out electronic record-keeping system," News & Observer, February 25, 2013.

"The new system, called NC FAST, will create a more timely, efficient and accurate method of determining eligibility for food stamp benefits once it is fully implemented, said Sabrina Coleman, supervisor for the [Lee County] Food & Nutrition Services Program."

SOURCE: "Food & Nutrition Program: Food stamp applicants to see longer wait times," Sanford Herald, July 24, 2012.

Despite the problems, many county social services directors say they believe the move to NC FAST will eventually be better for their clients. "It will be better for clients. They won't have to spend all day at the social service office going from worker to worker to apply for things," said Eric Bush, Director of Duplin County Social Services.

SOURCE: Annalise Frank and Laura Finaldi, "NC officials work to end food aid delays caused by new benefits system," News & Observer, August 9, 2013.

"The day is coming when you won't even have to come to DSS to get benefits," Lenoir County DSS Director Susan Moore said about the online system's ePass application process.

SOURCE: "Whopping amount of dollars spent on poverty," Kinston Free Press, October 2, 2013.

"When the glitches are worked out," [Cumberland County DSS Deputy Director Heather] Skeens said, "it's going to be an incredible system."

SOURCE: "NC FAST computer system continues to cause food stamp processing delays," Fayetteville Observer, August 29, 2013.

NC FAST (Families Accessing Services through Technology) is a tool that will improve the way social services are administered in North Carolina, enabling county case workers to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time assisting families. By the end of the planned 5-year rollout of the system, NC FAST will replace 19 legacy systems used to deliver social service benefits, including FNS (food stamps), Medicaid, Work First and child care services. NC FAST will improve the state's 100 county social service agencies' ability to track cases, share information and coordinate services to provide more efficient and effective customer service.

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