Possible delays with new Social Services program - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Possible delays with new Social Services program

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Several calls to the WECT.com prompted staff to learn a little more about a new program at the Department of Social Services.

Callers wanted to know why the card they rely on for food had not be refilled when they expected it.

DSS switched to a new service program called NC Fast before the end of 2012. The statewide system is meant to be a step above the management program used before the November change.

An email from DSS Director LaVaughn Nesmith highlights the positives and negatives of NC Fast since the switch.

The highlights mention automatic notices being a time saver for staff, while concerns center around limited communication with NC Fast personnel.

A staff of 32 case workers handle the paperwork for more than 16,000 families in New Hanover County, according to program coordinator Mary John Brantley.

Brantley said delays in assistance are possible, but her staff is working around the clock to keep them from happening.

"We're doing everything we possibly can to help prevent that," she said. "We worked some overtime to allow staff to get in here and get some cases processed."

A delay could come from several sources, according to Brantley. She said NC Fast needs more data than the previous system, so each account takes more time to log.

The process time will likely shorten with time. Brantley said staff is on the back end of a learning curve that started in November.

The email from Nesmith echoed the sentiment, with a line that cited improvements in staff capabilities every day.

If anyone is dealing with a delay in service, Brantley said he or she should contact DSS. Case workers will verify all paperwork to make sure no signatures are missing or boxes left unchecked.

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