Northampton DSS switches to NCFASTPublished 11:07am Monday, February 11, 2013
JACKSON – Change is on the way.
The Northampton County Department of Social Services Food and Nutrition (formerly called Food Stamps) program is currently in the process of changing computer systems. The new computer system, known as NCFAST (North Carolina Families Accessing Services through Technology) is replacing on that is over 30 years old.
“The NCFAST system will eventually allow recipients to have one interview and give their information to one worker instead of several workers,” said Northampton County DSS Director Sheila Manley-Evans. “Eligibility for all programs will be determined using this single interview and will save the participants time and trips to DSS.”
Manley-Evans said because NCFAST is a new computer system, it requires Food and Nutrition workers to ask more questions during the interview. The first step in the transition from the old computer system to NCFAST took place in mid August when Food and Nutrition workers began taking applications in the new program.
“The first step went rather smoothly, however, beginning Dec. 17 all monthly recertifications were required to be transferred to NCFAST as they come due,” she noted. ‘This process involves the Food and Nutrition workers to build a new case in NCFAST for each recertification for the month. The entire recipient’s information must be keyed into the new computer system in a certain order to build a new case in NCFAST. This transfer of information process takes more time than before, causing workers to spend from 45 minutes to four hours converting one case into NCFAST.’
Northampton County DSS serves approximately 7,000 citizens and Manley-Evans said her office strives very hard to make sure benefits are issued timely.
“We’ve been working longer hours and on the weekends to try to get these cases transferred into NCFAST, however delays are happening,” she stated. “Participants will see longer wait times to complete Food and Nutrition recertifications. We ask that you bear with us during the implementation of NCFAST, as it will benefit the citizens of the county once all cases have been converted. It will take approximately six months for the Food and Nutrition workers to transfer all cases to the NCFAST system.”
Manley-Evans added that participants may help by returning their recertification forms and required verifications quickly, which will allow Food and Nutrition workers to start the redetermination process early.
Anyone wishing to avoid the long interview and wait may apply for the Food and Nutrition Program by going online and completing the application at www.epass.nc.gov. They may then print the application out and sign it. Applications may be mailed, faxed or brought into the DSS office in Jackson at which time a worker will contact them for a required interview.
Manley-Evans noted that Medicaid and Work First will be the next programs to implement the change from the old system to NCFAST coming later this year.
For more information on the NCFAST program or any service offered by Northampton County DSS, call (252) 534-5811.