Walker defends DSS Director

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 13, 2006

JACKSON – Northampton County DSS Director Dr. Al Wentzy may have made mistakes, but did so for the right reasons.

Janet Walker, chair of the Northampton County Department of Social Services Board, said Tuesday she thought a letter criticizing Dr. Wentzy was aimed in the wrong direction.

Northampton County Commission Chairwoman Virginia D. Spruill (D-2nd) sent a letter to the DSS Board last week criticizing Dr. Wentzy’s job performance and calling into question the DSS Board’s action in regards to a shortfall in funding for daycare subsidies in the county.

Walker agreed Tuesday that it was possible mistakes had been made, but backed the DSS Director’s work.

&uot;I have been pleased with the job Dr. Wentzy had done,&uot; Walker said. &uot;He has been an advocate for Medicare and getting special assistance for heating and cooling for our citizens.

&uot;If he did anything wrong, or things that may have seemed to be wrong, it was an honest mistake,&uot; she continued. &uot;He was trying to keep all children possible in daycare.&uot;

Walker said if the mistakes were made, it was because Dr. Wentzy was working diligently to serve all the citizens of Northampton County.

&uot;Even though he might have made mistakes, I don’t think it was deliberate,&uot; she said. &uot;He was trying too hard, like he always does in my opinion, to help everybody.&uot;

Walker said Northampton was not the only county in North Carolina facing the shortfall, but insisted it was the only one pointing the finger of blame at the DSS Director.

&uot;People are making it seem like we are the only county in North Carolina in this situation. That is not true,&uot; she said. &uot;We are the only county trying to place all of the blame on the DSS Director.&uot;

She said the state should be bearing the blame for the shortfall and not Dr. Wentzy.

According to Walker’s figures, the state of North Carolina allocated $1,173,858 for the year to handle the daycare funding. That was a monthly allotment of $97,822.

She said the state did not include any additional funding when they changed the star ratings of several daycares in the county.

Walker said some of the daycares went from one to three stars and that meant an additional $1,500 per month.

She said no changes were made to the allotment and that meant the number of children already in daycare couldn’t be provided for with the change in star ratings.

Walker said Hazel Collier, the boards vice chair, and Dr. Wentzy had been working together to alleviate the projected $230,000 shortfall in Northampton County, independent of the county commissioners.

She added, however, that she would have liked to work together.

&uot;If the county commissioners had said to the DSS Board, ‘Come with us and find a resolution to the problem,’&uot; she said. &uot;Yes we don’t always agree, but for the sake of the citizens, build a bridge and get over it and solve the problem.

&uot;Don’t make it personal,&uot; she added. &uot;Don’t make it political.&uot;