3SquaresVT Payment Error Rate Greatly Improves

20 May 2015

Department for Children and Families (DCF) Commissioner Ken Schatz reported today that Vermont’s payment error rate for 3SquaresVT - a federally-funded program that provides food assistance to about 87,000 Vermonters - was well below the required standard in Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2014. In FFY 2013, our payment error rate stood at 9.66%. This rate dropped to 2.58% in FFY 2014, ranking Vermont top in the nation for most-improved rate. The current state-reported payment error rate for the first four months of FFY 2015 is under 1%.

“We know that good food, enough food and a sense of security about where your next meal is coming from are crucial components for the health and well-being of individuals, children, and families,” said Agency of Human Services Secretary Hal Cohen. “DCF staff worked extremely hard to ensure this level of security for all Vermonters. The improvement in the 3SquaresVT error rate is an indication of that level of work and dedication.”

The Food & Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program nationally, requires states to achieve a minimum accuracy rate of 94% when issuing benefits – or face penalties. This means that the percentage of total recipients who were either under or over paid (calculated as a Payment Error Rate) must be below 6% to be in compliance.

“The improvement in our payment error rate is the result of a lot of hard work on the part of staff,” said DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz. “I thank and commend all employees of our Economic Services Division for their strong commitment and dedication to making 3SquaresVT work for Vermonters in need.”

Several initiatives contributed to the dramatic turnaround in our payment error rate:

  • Adding new eligibility workers;
  • Delivering intensive staff trainings;
  • Restoring ESD’s training unit; and
  • Consulting with national experts around best practices.

“We applaud the Department for Children and Families for their outstanding work to strengthen systems and resolve Vermont’s challenges with payment errors in the 3SquaresVT program,” said Executive Director of Hunger Free Vermont Marissa Parisi. “Thanks to these efforts, Vermonters can be assured they will receive accurate food benefits in their time of need which is our best defense in preventing hunger and malnutrition in our state.”