Social Services Today: Building partnerships strengthens services

Dec. 07, 2013 @ 01:04 PM

As the holidays approach, thoughts turn to being grateful for what we have and to giving to others.  At Durham County’s Department of Social Services, we are very grateful to the many community partners working with us to help improve the lives of our community’s residents. Thanks to a wide range of individuals and groups that work in partnership and collaboration with DSS our ability to help our community grows. The following examples show just a few examples of our partnerships in the community.

Glitches with NC FAST, the state’s new computer system, caused big delays in benefits for folks who receive food assistance. Because of this, our agency has had to spend more money this year than usual for emergency food assistance. Similarly, NC Tracks, a state computer system which provides payments to pharmacies for prescriptions, has also had problems this year. This has meant that some pharmacies had not been willing to fill prescriptions because they had not received payment.
Durham DSS overspent the amount of money in our emergency medicine fund because we were making sure people were able to meet one of their most basic needs -- medicine. On Dec. 2, Duke donated $25,000 to DSS; these funds will be used to replenish our coffers so we can continue providing much needed emergency services for food and medicine for families and adults in crisis. We are grateful for their initiative, leadership and generosity.
In collaboration with Lincoln Community Health Center, there is a certified applications counselor located at Social Services to assist people who are interested in understanding and applying for the health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Having an in-house expert helps our staff and clients with understanding this new change to health care.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children entering foster care receive a comprehensive medical assessment and that medical recommendations from the screening and assessment be incorporated into Social Services case plans. Thanks to our collaboration with Duke University Medical Center, as of Oct. 1, there is now a clinic where children who enter foster care can go for a comprehensive medical evaluation and coordination with their primary care doctor.
Our foster care children have also received support from the Triangle Modern Quilt Guild. The talented members of the guild quilted and donated 20 lap quilts to children in foster care. As a foster parent herself, one of the guild members knew that the children would feel loved and cared for through this handmade gift.  We are thankful for the time, talent and care that went into this donation.
Our staff has also felt the love from the community. On Oct. 23, The Summit Church in Durham showed its appreciation for the hard work of our agency’s child welfare social workers by providing them with a catered four-course luncheon. A number of our agency’s licensed foster parents attend this church and felt that the hard work of our social workers, which often goes unnoticed, deserved recognition. More than 120 of our staff enjoyed the delicious food and most of all, were grateful for the affirmation. What a great morale booster for our staff!
These are just a few examples that show how DSS is working to strengthen our ties with the community.  Durham County DSS is an agency that provides services to people across the lifecycle and we recognize that we cannot and are not doing this work alone.  We welcome the opportunity join forces or build bridges to strengthen the safety net that DSS offers.
Those interested organizations, agencies, or businesses that wish to collaborate with DSS are welcome to contact the DSS Director’s office by calling 919-560-8038.

Michael A Becketts is a guest columnist and the director of the Durham County Department of Social Services.