DCF Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Charlie Crist

Robert A. Butterworth

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Sarrah Troncoso
December 27, 2007 850-488-4855

Children and Families Improves Food Stamp Error Rate
~ Secretary Butterworth Congratulates Employees for Reducing the Food Stamp Error Rate ~

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. - Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth praised the work of ACCESS Florida employees for reducing the food stamp error rate. ACCESS Florida is the modernized public assistance service delivery system (Automated Community Connection to Economic Self-Sufficiency). This program assists families with Food Stamp, Temporary Cash Assistance, and Medicaid benefits.

"I commend our employees on their hard work and success to lower our food stamp error rate," said Secretary Butterworth. "Not only were they able to bring us below the national average, but they earned the distinction of most improved error rate in the nation."

The food stamp error rate is the percent of benefits authorized incorrectly, including payments that were too high and too low. The U.S. Department of Agriculture acknowledges Florida as having the most improved food stamp error rate. The report collected data from October 2006 to July 2007, the first ten months of the federal fiscal year. Florida's food stamp error rate is 3.92 percent, below the national average of 5.25 percent.

Earlier this year, the Department hired an outside consulting firm to determine ways to improve Florida's food stamp error rate. The firm concluded ACCESS employees' workloads were high, making it difficult to determine eligibility for all applications received. Applications processed have increased by more than 34% in recent years, as staffing levels were reduced by 43%.

"Statewide the Department has 4,109 employees who work in eligibility determination for ACCESS services," said Secretary Butterworth. "We believe there are some employees whose workload is too high, which is why our 2008 Legislative Budget Request includes 300 new full time employee positions."

To apply for food stamps or to locate a customer service center in your area, call 1-866-76ACCESS (1-866-762-2237) or visit http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/ess/.


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