Temporary workers needed for NC FAST

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Problems that have plagued the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services during the past year have had a very real impact on hungry families in the Twin Counties.

As Telegram staff writer Darla Slipke reported this week, the Edgecombe County Department of Social Services has wrestled with the NC FAST computer system to process applications for food stamps benefits.

In some cases, it takes four hours or longer to handle a single application.

Most of the responsibility for that inefficiency belongs to the state. Despite numerous assurances from Gov. Pat McCrory and DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos that things are getting better, software issues continue to cause delays. In some cases, families have been waiting for months to receive their basic nutrition benefits.

But Edgecombe County officials bear some responsibility, too. The Department of Social Services has asked County Manager Lorenzo Carmon to authorize the hiring of temporary employees to help Social Services workers. Social Services board members planned to reiterate that request again in a meeting with county administrators that was scheduled for Monday night.

Temp services cost money, of course, but delaying such a decision hurts hungry families and throws the department further behind in its efforts to process applications. Edgecombe County needs to hire those workers now.

A strong case can be made for reimbursement from the state, and we hope the county will pursue that avenue. But the Department of Social Services needs immediate help.

Here’s hoping Mr. Carmon will make the right call.