Northampton DSS makes preparations for staff shortages

Published 6:43 pm Friday, August 5, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

JACKSON – In an effort to be proactive about staff shortages in the department, Northampton County Department of Social Services (DSS) Director Rhonda Taylor requested approval for a contract with a staffing service during the Board of Commissioners meeting on Aug. 1.

“Currently, we are down to three Child Protective Services workers, out of eight,” Taylor said. “I’m doing whatever I can to make sure that we don’t burn out the three workers that we do have until we can hire some more.”

One way Taylor planned to combat that issue was to have a contract in place with Vanguard Professional Staffing in the event that they’d need to hire temporary workers.

She explained that the contract would be on an “as-needed” basis, and that they had already included funds for this in the budget in anticipation of staffing shortages. She also noted that most people working for this staffing company are usually retired or not seeking full-time employment.

Taylor stated that she’s currently working with previous employees to fill in the gaps as well, and she’s conducting interviews to hopefully hire more workers soon. Through these measures she may not need to utilize the contract service at all, but she wanted to have the opportunity available if necessary.

The state’s Health and Human Services Department will help provide training quickly for any new hires, especially since DSS staffing vacancies are a problem facing departments across all of North Carolina.

“I just want to make sure we have workers, and our workers are not burnt out, and that our children are safe,” Taylor said.

Commissioner Geneva Faulkner asked if any changes had been made to the contract with Vanguard. County Attorney Scott McKellar said he had made a few minor corrections, and added the county’s standard addendum to the contract.

She also asked if there was any clause to prevent permanently hiring a temporary worker. McKellar pointed to a section of the contract which explained that the worker must complete over 680 hours of work before a permanent hire is made. Faulkner agreed that was a reasonable amount of time.

Faulkner motioned to approve the contract, and Commissioner Joyce Buffaloe seconded. The vote was unanimously in favor among those in attendance. Commissioner Nicole Boone was not able to attend the meeting.

In his remarks at the end of the meeting, Board Chair Charles Tyner noted that DSS was not the only department currently facing staff shortages. It’s a widespread issue, not only in county government but across the state and nation too.

“It’s really frightening, folks. We’ve got jobs, but nobody to work those jobs,” Tyner said.

He spoke on the importance of filling those vacancies and working together to make that happen.

“We need to make sure we do all we can to make Northampton County a place where people would want to come to work,” he emphasized.