Indiana rolling out e-benefits

Indiana has taken its first steps to fully convert its food stamp and cash

assistance programs to an electronic benefits transfer system. All counties

are scheduled to be online with the EBT system by March 2002.

Recipients in Allen, DeKalb and Steuben counties were shown in April

how to use the automated teller machine-style Hoosier Works card that will

replace paper-based food stamps and assistance forms. The state has made

such training mandatory for people to continue receiving benefits.

"We've actually been a little disappointed with the attendance at these

training sessions so far," said Joseph Ferrara, the EBT project director.

"It's averaged only between 72 and 79 percent of those people who had been

notified that they had to take them."

However, he said, that doesn't include members of a household in which

several people might be eligible for benefits, and where one of the members

has taken the training and then gone back to train others in the household.

If you add these situations to others, such as people who have moved from

another state who were already familiar with EBT and felt they didn't need

the training, the figure of "trained" recipients is closer to 85 percent,

he said.

The state will use that knowledge to modify training programs in other

counties, Ferrara said. Rollouts will begin in other counties by August

and continue until March 2002.

More than 30 states have completed EBT rollouts.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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