This week’s periodical will focus on South Carolina Department of Social Services, one of South Carolina’s largest agencies. Newberry Director Kenneth McBride will discuss information of the diversity, efficiency and effectively made available in programs to benefit South Carolina citizens.
The Department of Social Services is one of South Carolina’s largest agencies. The mission is to effectively serve residents by ensuring the safety of children and adults who cannot protect themselves and assisting families to achieve stability through child support, child care, financial and other temporary benefits while transitory into employment.
Some of Newberry DSS accomplishments in 2017 in the (SNAP and TANF) Economic Service area, we were lucky enough to assist 61 people in obtaining employment who were receiving assistance from our office. We have also helped a number of other people get a job through opening up our Employment Preparation class to the public, through people coming in and working with our job developer, and through having 15 job fairs in Newberry that were open to the public and free for employers.
Statewide in 2017, 41,267 individuals receiving SNAP and/or TANF services obtained employment.
We will continue to move forward in 2018 to offer employers the opportunity to have job fairs at our office or other sites. We also will continue to encourage anyone who wants to improve their employability to attend our Employment Preparation class.
Our job developer, Valarie Thacker, is in our office Tuesdays and Thursdays and she helps individuals find jobs. There are clothes in our closet for people who need clothes to go on an interview. Work continues on improving the time it takes to process cases. (goal is 15 days or less.) We work on our employees being kept up to date to help reduce errors.
Accomplishments in the Child Protective Services – we continue to strive to keep kids out of Foster Care by accessing family members or close friends of the family for possible placement while we conduct investigation and while parents work a treatment plan so the children can come home to a safe environment. We currently have 10 children in Foster Care. In 2017, we had a total of 25 children in Foster Care during the year. Three of these children were adopted. We currently have 31 children that are staying with kinship caregivers while the parents work a treatment plan. We are currently working with 72 families in their home and investigating 22 cases.
In 2017, the agency was able to have all calls of abuse and neglect go through a phone HUB placed in different counties throughout the state. When a call comes in, it moves to the first available phone line to help speed up the reporting process.
Last year we were able to have Sam Etheridge come to our office and offer free parenting classes. These classes are open to the public for anyone who wants to learn parenting skills or want to sharpen their parenting skills. The best part of the classes is that someone can join the class at any time. Classes are held every Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. They do not have babysitting services.
With the help of Lowe’s Heroes project we were able to divide our file room in half and create a clothes closet for our Foster children, people who need clothes for job interview, Adult Protective Service clients, and families who have been burned out.
Adult Protective Service is an ever growing area with Baby Boomers growing older. We work with adults considered vulnerable and are neglected by someone or themselves. We are currently investigating six Adult Protective cases and have 14 open cases. We have successfully closed 17 cases.
We had the opportunity to work with four interns in 2017, one from Piedmont Technical College and three from Newberry College. We are open to working with local colleges to help individuals to learn and grow.
DSS is moving ahead in 2018. The agency hopes to expand, it is proposed coverage for Child and Adult Protective Services by adding a second shift. In 2018, it is proposed that the Laurens Office will have a second shift that will cover Newberry. Second and thrid shifts will be added to different offices throughout the state.
The leadership team in the Newberry office is going to provide a leadership class for employees that are interested in moving into a leadership position. We value our employees and want them to become all they can be.
Newberry County multi Agency meets at the DSS office the third Wednesday of every month at 9:00 a.m. All agencies that provide services to Newberry County are free to attend. As a group, we are going to go to different townships throughout the county to help educate the community about the different services that are available to them. Anyone interested in being a part of this group, contact me at the DSS office.
We hope to get a group to take over the clothes closet. We have been blessed by many donations and we hope to better serve the community through this closet.
The Department of Social Services is constantly looking to better our agency through trainings, assessment tools and technology to better provide services for the individuals we serve. Call 803-321-2155 during regular working hours.
Margaret Brackett is from Newberry. Her columns appear weekly in The Newberry Observer.