DCF Preps for Hurricane Season with Benefit Fraud Drill

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Tallahassee, FL -- The Florida Department of Children and Families tested its "Food for Florida" benefit program Friday. But it wasn't just a regular test, they ran employees through a mock hurricane fallout drill before hurricane season starts in the sunshine state. In a real emergency, hurricane victims seeking food benefits would start with registration.

During this training session, however, not everyone seeking mock benefits was on the level. Some employees posed as people trying to defraud the system.

"We try to balance being able to be as accessible as possible to those in need, with also having good program integrity with fraud controls to make sure that those who are trying to game the system don't get in," said Deputy DCF Secretary Suzanne Vitale.

DCF hasn't had to roll out a real program like this since 2005, but that doesn't mean they're not keeping up with the times.

"Since 2005 when it was a very paper intensive process, there were very long lines, it was not very efficient. We have done a lot of different changes, including a pre-registration during a disaster that allows people to go online to pre-register so they can come through this process a lot quicker," said Vitale.

DCF says that implementing satelite technology powered by generators should streamline the process for disaster weary residents.

In the event of a real disaster, Leon County would have two locations open on a larger scale to better serve the public.