DSS, Public Health now one

DSS, Public Health now one
June 28
05:00 2018

As of July 1, the Forsyth County Departments of Social Services (DSS) and Public Health will be consolidated into a Human Services department.

County commissioners voted 7-1 to approve the move last week. Little is expected to change for the clients of the two departments, which are located next to each other on the same campus on Highland Avenue.

“There should be minimal change in how things run in those departments,” said Assistant County Manager Ronda Tatum, who will be the Human Services director.

Consolidation involves who runs the departments, which currently both have their own boards with the ability to hire and fire their departments’ directors. Most of those board members will make up the new 18 member consolidated Human Services board.  Hiring and firing powers over the directors of DSS and Public Health will fall to the Human Services director, who is hired by the county manager, with the advice and consent of the Human Services board. 

The directors for both DSS and Human Services will stay in place and no personnel changes are expected from consolidation. Human Services employees will no longer be under the State Human Resources Act and will be under the same policies and procedures as other county employees.

County Commissioner Everette Witherspoon was the sole “no” vote, repeating his concern that the county commissioners could try to influence county management to fire a DSS or Public Health director they don’t like.

“We have a history of meddling in health and human services when we [aren’t] supposed to be meddling in health and human services, and it hasn’t been for the people,” said Witherspoon.

The other commissioners disagreed. County Commissioner and DSS Board Chairman Fleming El-Amin said that he felt it would help, not hurt, the county’s social services.

“At this point, I’m convinced that consolidation will be the best thing for the citizens of Forsyth County,” said El-Amin.

Another option for consolidation that the county didn’t choose was giving county commissioners direct control over both departments. The option commissioners approved last week was recommended by consulting firm Cansler Collaborative Resources and county staff, since it put county management, and not the commissioners, over the departments. So far, 34 other counties in North Carolina have consolidated their Human Services.

The consolidated board’s first organizational meeting is scheduled for August 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the Public Health Building and its first official meeting is on Sept. 5 at 5:30 at the Department of Social Services (DSS).

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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