DSS employees earn state award

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 10, 2003

WINTON – Two employees with the Hertford County Department of Social Services (DSS) have been declared winners of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners 2002-03 Ketner Award. The announcement was made here Monday during a meeting of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners.

Brenda H. Allen and Avis Murphy were introduced to the local Commissioners as the award winners. Allen serves as an Office Assistant IV with DSS while Murphy is employed as the DSS Work First Supervisor.

&uot;We are extremely proud of these two outstanding county employees,&uot; said Johnnie Farmer, Chairman to the Board of Commissioners. &uot;I serve on a statewide committee that selects the Ketner Award winners, but I cannot vote for those from my county. You don’t know how pleased I was when I saw that final list of award recipients and saw that Hertford County had not one, but two winners.&uot;

Farmer went on to explain that the Ketner Awards are given annually to a select few whose submitted projects were judged as the best in productivity. For 2002-03, the review committees went over 98 applications and selected only 10 projects as award winners.

&uot;The Ketner Award is in recognition of projects that are designed to save money through initiative programs,&uot; stressed Farmer. &uot;The project submitted by Brenda Allen and Avis Murphy is designed to do exactly that….save us some money.&uot;

Allen and Murphy submitted their project, entitled, &uot;Client Financial Assistance Database.&uot; The goal of the project was to create a database that contains information on all clients that have received financial assistance for supported services. Developing a centralized database allows for quick access to obtain information on what assistance has been provided to the client and enables DSS staff to know the last date of assistance, the amount of assistance and from what program fund the assistance was generated. In addition, the database allows a supervisor to cross-reference assistance that may have been granted from the various programs without having to search through paper files.

The cost-saving initiatives of the award-winning program can be seen in reducing the amount of time a supervisor or office assistant uses in researching previous &uot;hard copy&uot; files of multiple programs and levels of assistance. That allows for a quicker application process and disposition of applications. It also assists in allowing for quick cross-reference to assure services are not being duplicated as well as reducing errors in determining the eligibility of clients applying for various services.

Another key element in having all information compiled in a database is that it’s updated and checked on a regular basis, allowing DSS staff to track availability of funds to ensure that the unit maximizes funding from all sources disbursed by the Work First program.

In order to create the database, Allen and Murphy had to pull hard copy files, including financial assistance records, and then log them into the database. All records from April of 1999 to present were keyed into the database.

Allen and Murphy will attend the North Carolina’s Ketner Awards program, scheduled for Greensboro. There, each will receive a check for $1,000 in honor of their cost-saving program.