The Department of Social Services (DSS) has expanded staff and services and solidified partnerships to minimize delays in the receipt of benefits that some clients might experience during the NC FAST transition.
The NC FAST Program is designed to improve the way North Carolina’s 100 county departments of social services conduct business, and introduces new technological tools and processes that will enable staff to spend less time performing administrative tasks and more time assisting families. Currently, only those households applying for Food and Nutrition services can submit their applications electronically through the NC FAST system.
While NC FAST will ultimately improve access to DSS programs and services, DSS Division Director Rodney Adams stated that during this period of implementation, “Clients who file their Recertification applications in a timely manner may experience delays of 5 to 10 business days over the coming few months. Those who file their applications late may experience longer delays due to systems issues.”
When the NC counties that piloted NC FAST reported processing backlogs were leading to delays in delivering benefits to clients, Mecklenburg County DSS added 55 temporary staff positions and began utilizing overtime and staff from other areas to help lessen the impact of the NC FAST implementation. In addition, temporary changes in Call Center hours have been implemented to support the NC FAST effort. On-site technical staff from the NC Department of Health and Human Services has been recently assigned to Mecklenburg to address issues related to software and technology.
As a precaution, DSS has collaborated with Second Harvest Food Bank and Loaves and Fishes to ensure that households in need of assistance with food resources will be served. Kay Carter, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina said, “We are pleased to continue our partnership with DSS in serving the residents of Mecklenburg County during this transition to NC FAST.”
DSS is currently contacting individuals and families via direct mail advising them of potential delays and offering additional options to obtain food resources. Food Referral information is available at http://charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/dss
or by calling United Way 211 or Just One Call at 704-432-1111.