Rowan County citizens are a special people, steeped in the tradition of strong family values, strong work ethics, pride in their county, and an expectation for their governmental organizations to be efficient and effective. I believe Rowan County DSS is an agency in harmony with the community.
DSS serves economically disadvantaged children, families, and adults, helping them to become self-sufficient. Every month, more than 18,000 Rowan County citizens are able to increase their food buying power through the Food and Nutrition Services program. And, through Medicaid and NC Health Choice, more than 21,000 individuals receive needed health services, including physician care, medicine, hospital and nursing home care. The Work First program provides a small monthly, temporary payment to 370 households, so unemployed parents can provide for their families. Child care subsidies help pay for quality child care for 1100 children, while their parents work or complete their education. Children from single-parent homes benefit when DSS’ child support staff are able to establish paternity, develop child support orders, and enforce those orders with the help of law enforcement and the court. More than $900,000 in monthly child support payments are issued to Rowan County families who are working through DSS’ child support program.
DSS focuses on enabling at-risk children to be safe and healthy in stable environments and on helping children in agency custody to become successful adults. Over 200 reports of child abuse and neglect are made each month by concerned citizens, teachers, doctors, family members, and anonymous callers. Each report is carefully assessed by DSS’ child protective services staff. In the past year, 140 children were removed from their parents’ home and placed in foster care. There are 32 families licensed by DSS to serve as foster homes. Victims of abuse and neglect suffer physical and psychological harm, and many need specialized foster care in therapeutic or group homes. Social workers provide parents with resources and internal tools so they can make positive choices and changes in their lives. Many parents successfully regain custody of their children. However, 34 children were placed in adoptive homes this past year, and others went to live with relatives other than their parents.
DSS helps aging and disabled adults to be safe and healthy and to live in the most stable and least restrictive settings as possible. DSS’ adult protective services staff addresses hundreds of reports from the public about citizens who are victims of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. As a result, those in need are connected with services such as adult day care, in-home aide, and guardian appointment. When needs cannot be met at home even with support services, DSS works with the family for placement in a care facility where the adult can live safely and with dignity.
The Board of Social Services and DSS work together to establish and maintain effective community partnerships to understand social issues and prevent social problems. The DSS Board regularly convenes community roundtables to bring attention to issues affecting our citizens. DSS partners with law enforcement, the school system, medical care providers, the faith community, and service organizations to understand issues and find solutions to common problems. Two issues under review at this time are parenting practices that put infants at risk and teen abuse of prescription drugs.
DSS is accountable to the community. The cost to the county to administer the programs and to pay the required county portion of public benefits is just under seven million dollars. State and federal revenues make up the remaining fifteen million that is needed to provide social services and benefits to more than 30,000 Rowan County citizens. DSS uses a system of checks and balances and practices daily oversight to maximize revenues and to maintain the highest fiscal accountability and transparency.
It is a pleasure to serve the citizens of Rowan County. I am grateful for our community partners, our Board of Directors, and our 193 employees for the work that they do. Working together is the key to addressing the community’s urgent and compelling needs.
Donna F. Fayko, Director
Rowan County Department of Social Services