New state food stamp requirements are costing counties

BEAUFORT, N.C. (WNCT) – New state requirements for food stamps could cost several counties extra money.

Last month, Carteret County approved funding for 4 additional social services caseworkers. Now, other counties are trying to do the same.

Counties in the East want more caseworkers because state legislation is tightening requirements, and as a result, increasing workloads.

By July 1, people receiving benefits who have no dependents will have to work a minimum 80 hours a month. That means staff will have to spend extra time explaining requirements, tracking hours, and reviewing cases.

In Carteret County, 32 employees averaged 286 cases each just 10 years ago. But this year, that caseload has nearly doubled for a third of its workers. They expect the workload to grow even more by April.

“It’s all new work, it’s not changing or doing away with anything that we’re doing now, but it’s adding an entirely different level of work that case workers are going to have to do,” said David Atkinson, Carteret County Director of Human Services.

The Board of Commissioners approved the 4 new positions they say are essential under new state mandates. That leaves county taxpayers footing the more than $60,000 bill to pay new workers.

We also checked in with Pitt County’s Department of Social Services. Director Jan Elliot says they’re also working to hire 4 additional employees. She says “This is a small number of staff to accomplish what needs to be accomplished with the numbers anticipated.”

The Pitt County Board of Social Services has unanimously approved adding 4 workers. Now it moves to the Board of Commissioners.

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