Social Services Today
As you may have heard, Durham’s Department of Social Services is on the move. By the end of this month, our department will have consolidated our services in a new building at 414 E. Main St., at the corner of Dillard Street. We are excited about our new home, especially because it will facilitate the delivery of services to our clients.
The new building enables Durham residents to receive a variety of human services at one site. Prior to the move, nearly all the services offered by Durham DSS were in two separate buildings, which meant that clients whose needs fell in multiple program areas had to see staff in two locations. Now, the staff can collaborate more readily and refer clients down the hall or to a different floor, rather than to a different building.
In addition, the Durham County Department of Public Health, Durham County Veteran Services and Alliance Behavioral Health are co-located in the same building. This not only allows our agency to build even stronger bonds with these organizations but it also makes it easier for clients who receive or seek services at more than one agency. Now, someone in financial need who receives a prescription from a Health Department clinic can apply for Medicaid by walking down the hall instead of going across town. Veterans can easily be directed to Social Services for seamless services.
Clients will also benefit from the way that the space is designed. Our open and bright space features an interior courtyard where clients (and staff) can enjoy fresh air. Waiting areas are family-friendly, with children’s play areas and child-sized seating. There are separate waiting for large services areas; the days of everyone waiting in the same lobby are long gone. Video displays in each lobby will feature educational and service information that is of interest to clients.
Very accessible for handicapped visitors, the building is easily reached via public transportation; the free DATA Bull City Connector has a stop but feet from the entrance at Main and Dillard streets. Being near downtown makes the building easy for some folks to walk to. For those who drive to see us, a parking lot at 500 N. Dillard Street across the street from the main entrance is designated for clients and should eliminate a long search for a parking place.
The building itself is truly a 21st-century space, incorporating a significant number of green features. In fact, the county is seeking LEED ® Gold certification -- the second highest level -- from the U.S. Green Building Council for the building. In the end, the true value of the building lies in offering a well-designed space that provides a one-stop shop for human services for the residents of Durham County. We look forward to serving Durham citizens from our new home.
Questions about programs offered by DSS can be answered by calling 919-560-8038.
Michael A Becketts is the director of the Durham County Department of Social Services.