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Board hears about DSS program changes for food stamp recipients

By: Erin Smith

The Bladen County Board of Commissioners met on Monday night and heard about the Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents or ABAWDs for short.

Bladen County Department of Social Services Director Vickie Smith and Brenda Burney told the board that

ABAWD is a USDA program for recipients of food stamps who are able to work and are not working. Smith said the program will begin statewide on July 1 and all counties will be required to join it.

Smith said there are exemptions that a person can receive such as applying or receiving unemployment, a student in school at least half time, caring for an incapacitated person, operating a home school at least 30 hours per week, declare a drug or alcohol dependency and there are others.

Commissioner Delilah Blanks asked about whether those that declare a drug and/or alcohol problem are required to receive treatment.

Smith said the staff does make referrals to treatment programs but the individuals are not required to seek treatment with this program.

Burney said, “We do have some clients who are in a treatment program.”

Smith said if none of the listed exemptions apply, the client must work for 80 hours per month

“This program is to help these clients become productive citizens in Bladen County,” said Smith.

Smith told the board the county received a report that identified 1,026 potential cases and her staff have worked on that report. She said the latest report shows that figure is now down to 587 potential cases.

Smith said if the clients do not meet the program’s requirements they will no longer receive food stamps.

In related matters:

*The board approved the Bladen County DSS IPad and Recording of Interview Policy.

*The board approved a consumer credit application for minor foster children. Smith said that the purpose is to ensure that children entering the foster care system have not been victims of identity theft.

*The board approved a renewal agreement with Johnson Law Firm to provide legal services to the department.

*The Board approved a renewal agreement with the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office.

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