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Hertford DSS to downsize

WINTON – In a cooperative effort to assist in trimming operational costs within Hertford County local government, the county’s Department of Social Services announces plans to reorganize and downsize its staff.

According to Brenda D. Brown, Hertford County’s DSS Director, the cost-cutting measures can trim operational costs by nearly $170,000.

Brown laid out her plans at the May 21 meeting of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners. There, Brown said reducing departmental expenses would result in the loss of only one, full-time employee. Other open positions will be frozen while the elimination of four other jobs, each in the Community Alternative Program (CAP), are currently being studied. However, those employees could possibly be retained by a private entity upon an agreement ironed out between the county and the ownership of that business.

Brown said due to the consolidation of two DSS offices into a single location in Winton, there was no longer a need to employ two Public Information IV positions (receptionists). She added that the agency’s clientele making office visits has decreased due to the NCFAST process. NCFAST (North Carolina Families Accessing Services through Technology) is an online, computer-aided program designed to improve the way the NC Department of Health and Human Services and county departments of social services do business.

“There are other staff who can provide back-up as needed for functions at our front desk,” Brown told the commissioners in explaining why the need for receptionists decreased from two to one employee.

She also told the board that the Work First caseload has decreased dramatically. In turn, Brown said that unit is being restructured as follows:

The current Work First Supervisor will be reclassified as a Social Worker.

One Social Worker II for the Work First Program will be moved, along with the Work First Supervisor, to the Medical Transportation/Child Care Unit.

One other Social Worker II will be reclassified/reassigned to an Income Maintenance III Caseworker to assist with Long Term Care and other duties.

“As a result of reorganization, (job) duties will be consolidated or transferred that will require fewer positions,” Brown noted in her presentation.

She added that now vacant and soon-to-be vacant positions will be frozen. Those positions include an Accounting Tech III, Accounting Tech II, Income Maintenance II (Family and Children’s Medicaid), Income Maintenance II (Food and Nutrition Services), Processing Assistance IV, Social Worker III for Foster Care/Licensure/Adoptions, Adult CAP Services/Social Worker Supervisor III, and four Social Worker II positions for CAP. One member of that foursome will move to another unit.

“CAP will no longer be a program led by the Hertford County Department of Social Services due to the costs to administer this program,” Brown told the commissioners. “The expenditures of this program are greater than the revenue, which causes shortfalls on DSS revenues that impact the county’s revenue stream.”

She added that through reorganization, which includes implementing a hiring freeze on the vacant positions, will reduce the DSS staff from 56 to 47 employees. That, she said, will result in a $166,017 savings to the county.

“The structure of DSS is constantly changing,” Brown stressed. “The reorganization of the agency’s dynamics will be reviewed upon each position becoming vacant to evaluate the need of the position, reclassification or elimination of any vacant position or positions.”

She added that DSS experienced shortfalls in revenue for fiscal year 2016-17 and is projected to suffer the same fate in the current fiscal year.

The Hertford County DSS Board of Directors approved Brown’s plans when they met on May 1. The county’s Board of Commissioners likewise approved the plans.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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