Monday this week, Maui TV News received a report of a federal injunction filed against the Department of Human Services for failure to act in timely fashion regarding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) applications. We contacted DHS officials for their response. Tuesday evening, they released the following statement:
“Like the rest of the nation, the State of Hawaii has experienced a substantial increase in the number of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) applications, and that has resulted in an applications backlog. To address the backlog cited in a federal injunction announced today, The Department of Human Services (DHS) and its Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) last year implemented a new benefits processing system. The Business Process Re-engineering Program (BPRP) has significantly improved the timeliness of eligibility reviews and shortened the waiting period for applicants applying for SNAP benefits.
“BPRP converts the former Case Management system to a Process Management system. Applications are no longer given to a single case worker. Instead, they are handled by several workers who are assigned to specific stages of the review process – Intake, Interviewing, Pending, Processing and Maintenance. Eligibility workers now review and determine applicant eligibility within the federally-mandated period of 30 days, and within 7 days for emergencies.
“All applicants arriving at eligibility offices on Maui and in Hilo are seen on the same day. Since November 2011, between 78% and 88% of all SNAP applications processed on Maui and in Hilo met the federal compliance timeline. At the Kapolei Processing Center on Oahu, which began operations on January 13, 2012, same day determination figures average 78% for applicants who appear in person and 77 % for those who apply via mail or fax. The DHS expects the State to be in full federal compliance by December 2012.
“The Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division will continue to analyze and review BPRP processes and operations, including policies, procedures, and future system needs. “