05/18/08 — Tucker to lead state DSS study

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Tucker to lead state DSS study

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on May 18, 2008 2:01 AM

At the request of county social service directors across the state, the North Carolina General Assembly has established a joint committee to study the agencies and a list of their concerns.

Helping head up those efforts will be co-chairman Rep. Russell Tucker, D-Duplin.

"We have five issues we want the committee to consider," Wayne County DSS Director Judy Pelt explained.

One is the need for more resources for the operation of emergency shelters, especially when setting up ones for special needs populations, such as the residents of the Brian Center in Goldsboro.

The second is the increase in administration costs across the board -- many of which are paid for by the county, even if they are a result of federal or state mandates.

"It really puts a strain on the staff," Mrs. Pelt said.

The third is the high turnover seen by all social services departments, especially in high-stress fields such as child protective services.

"It's a never-ending revolving door," she said.

Fourth is the need for better organized and "more reliable and manageable" state and federal funding streams.

The fifth and final area is the impact of the rapidly changing demographic shifts, especially in the elderly and Latino populations.

"Those create a huge workload for the agency," Mrs. Pelt said.

And while she's curious what suggestions may come out of the committee, she's just hoping they don't cause any further harm to the system.

"I'm very interested in helping any way I can. I don't have any preconceived notions," Tucker said. "I think anything should be on the table for discussion, and I think we're going to take a look at it all."