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Forsyth Co. DSS streamlines applications, eliminates wait time

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Departments of Social Services across the state are streamlining the way people apply for services, and Forsyth County's Department has taken things one step further trying to eliminate waiting and customer frustration.

The first of the statewide changes come with the state's new internet based information management and application system called NC FAST. The system allows people to apply for multiple services like food assistance and income help all using one simple application.

Forsyth County has set up more than 20 computer work stations and will have roving case workers to help people come in an apply for assistance without having to wait on an appointment and interview in each individual division.

"Currently we have approximately 200 to 250 applications a day and we did some statistical reviews and determined this process will say 50,000 interviews over a years time.  For the case workers that is amazing that is astronomical and for customers when they come in they have to wait to see someone and then they go to another person and wait and see that person and each could take an hour, so this helps," Melinda Hartley with Forsyth County D.S.S. said.

Forsyth County also is putting in a new customer care center, so people can get quick changes made to and questions answered about their benefits without having to wait on their individual case worker.

"It is hard enough for people to make the step to come to us and ask for assistance.  We wanted to be able to have people not have to wait all day," said Hartley.

The customer care center should open in September.

Forsyth also has added new navigators to the lobby. Those are people that can direct customers to the right offices and answer questions. Before customers had to follow signs or wait in line at the main desk.

Harley says it's all about helping the people they serve, "we are looking at a much broader customer friendly approach."

While not all services are yet up and running on NC FAST, they should be by October 1. Then anyone can apply for any of the services from anywhere there is internet access.