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DFCS problems persist in Central Georgia | News

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DFCS problems persist in Central Georgia

Some Georgia food stamp recipients say they've waited as long as three hours on the phone for answers about their benefits.

And even with the wait they say they don't get the answers they need, and when they stop by their local office no one there can help either.

13 WMAZ went back to Sadie Mims, a Cochran woman we introduced you to in October, and she says things have only gotten worse.

Her benefits have been slashed in half from $400 a month to $200.

"It's just been hard. It's been hard and it's been a lot worse since we first aired," Mims said.

She says since our interview last year, the $400 dollars a month in food stamps was cut completely then reactivated but she's getting less than half than she was before.

"We're a family of 6 and we barely get over 200 dollars," she said.

Mims is one of about 62,000 families across the state wondering where their next meal is coming from.

That's because the state agency designed to take care of them, the Georgia Department of Children and Family Services, is in a tailspin.

They switched to a digital system last year...

even though officials knew the phone system was inadequate, the computer software outdated, and the staff too small.

So many thousands of clients got accidentally dropped.

DFCS says it has spent nearly half a million dollars a week in overtime ALONE to deal with the backlog, but 44 percent of its calls are still going unanswered.

"We should be able to go to them, to talk to someone there, an actual person," Mims said.

She says the switch made her local DFCS office in Cochran obsolete.

"They'll tell you well you need to use the computer or you need to use the phone. They don't even bother to try and help you," she said.

And her sister says she's having the same problems.

I have called and been on the line with DFCS three hours...that 1-800 number?," said Sharon Burns. "I know three hours and that's not right."

When we asked Georgia DFCS spokeswoman Susan Boatwright about the issue last fall, she sent us an email that acknowledged the problems and said the agency was actively working to fix the backlog, but that was in October.

This week, DFCS says the backlog is supposed to be eliminated completely by May 1st.

It's one promise Mims is hoping DFCS is able to keep, so her family can get the help they need.

"They can at least act like they care. We should be able to go to our local DFCS office. That's what they're there for," she said.

13 WMAZ's sister station,11 Alive in Atlanta, reports that although more than a million Georgians are on food stamps, the DFCS phone line was set up to handle only 900 calls a time.

And the federal government has threatened to cut off $75 million in funds if the stamps program isn't fixed.


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