County services go more slowly before picking up speed

March 10, 2013 by  

Cary residents applying for food stamps in Wake County may experience a longer wait than previous applicants, but that is the price of progress. A statewide-computerized record-keeping system called NC FAST went into effect in Wake County in February and is expected to be operational throughout the entire state by March 22.

According to Elizabeth Scott, who directs the adult economic services unit in the county, the standard time for waiting for food and nutritional services is supposed to be no more than 30 days. However, of late, residents are waiting more than a month due to teething problems with the new system.

Apparently, like with all new systems, there is a period of adjustment. The new system will require fewer employees and take up less space once the department grows accustomed the new system. Economic services, as well as other county administered services, should run more smoothly as each goes online with computer record keeping.

Last summer, four North Carolina counties (Carteret, Catawba, Guilford and Johnston) made the transition to NC Fast to test the system and help work out any bugs. The Johnston County Department of Social Services director, Earl Marett, said the program was a success despite some initial setbacks.

While employees were becoming familiar with the system, clients were kept abreast of the situation and the reason for the delays via signage asking for their patience. Perhaps Wake County and other counties still suffering the birth pangs of the new system should consider poster printing to prevent their clients from becoming too anxious over delays.