An open records request showed DFCS spent $3,621 in overtime to help with backlogged food stamp and medicaid cases in November. By March, the division said it would spend roughly $470,000 a week, or $1.8 million a month, as long as the state required more than 2,000 DFCS employees to work overtime.
ATLANTA -- DFCS has watched its overtime budget soar as it tries to confront demands from the USDA to resolve its food stamp backlog -- or else.
An open records request showed DFCS spent $3,621 in overtime to help with backlogged cases in November. By March, the division said it would spend roughly $470,000 a week, or $1.8 million a month, as long as the state required more than 2,000 DFCS employees to work overtime.
Governor Nathan Deal talked with 11Alive on Friday, promising to do what was necessary to meet the USDA's demands and avoid losing $75 million in federal funds used to administer the food stamp program.
"We had a large volume of applicants, our computer systems were apparently not updated sufficiently to accommodate that volume, but Commissioner Horton has worked on it along with his staff, they're on a 24 hour schedule," said Gov. Deal.
On Friday, DFCS put the number closer to 60 percent saying more than 134,000 applications had been processed in the past two weeks.
For months, families have found it almost impossible to apply for benefits, waiting on hold for hours and unable to get help in county offices.
"I had only become aware that it was of that magnitude just fairly recently," said Deal.
An alarming answer to some, considering 11Alive has been doing stories on the problem since October and in November, we learned through an open records request, the USDA started demanding corrective action plans. When asked why he wasn't brought into the loop sooner, he said it was better to focus on the future, not the past.
"Let's just talk about the fact that we are aware of it and that we're doing something about it. That's what's important," said Deal.
But dozens of DFCS workers and families who have lost benefits say what we need to be talking about is why the system was launched in the first place. The division says its designed to improve service and be more efficient, but also says it will use up to $12 million in new federal funding to hire more than 500 workers in the long run and cover the costs of overtime in the short run.