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State Health Department Struggling To Process Benefits

NC Department of Health and Human Services logo
NC Department of Health and Human Services

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human services says her department is putting together an aggressive plan to make sure families who qualify for food assistance are receiving their benefits.

According to federal and state statistics, as many as twenty thousand low-income families are experiencing delays in getting money for groceries. DHHS spokeswoman Julie Henry says county caseworkers have a lot on their plate in processing applications, not the least of which is the new computer processing system, known as NC FAST.

"What we're working right now to do is to try to determine how we can work with our county partners to offer them some kind of relief so that they can get caught up- that's our primary goal right now- so that we can continue to more forward with implementing NC Fast and getting to the end result which is a better experience for not only the caseworker but especially for the client," says Henry.

Henry says the federal and state numbers reflect a lag in processing paperwork, but it does not necessarily reflect the actual number of clients who are not receiving the benefits.

Jessica Jones covers both the legislature in Raleigh and politics across the state. Before her current assignment, Jessica was given the responsibility to open up WUNC's first Greensboro Bureau at the Triad Stage in 2009. She's a seasoned public radio reporter who's covered everything from education to immigration, and she's a regular contributor to NPR's news programs. Jessica started her career in journalism in Egypt, where she freelanced for international print and radio outlets. After stints in Washington, D.C. with Voice of America and NPR, Jessica joined the staff of WUNC in 1999. She is a graduate of Yale University.
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