DSS discusses adoption at meeting

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 30, 2009

By Shavonne Potts
November is Adoption Awareness Month, which made it an appropriate time for the Department of Social Services board to hear the latest on a few adoptions at its meeting this week.
Frances Quinn, adoption program supervisor, advised the board on the status of a few children awaiting adoptive homes.
The department has finalized the adoption of two teens, one of which is an 18-year-old who has some special needs and technically has aged out of the program. She’d been staying with a foster family, who were able to adopt her. The teen had been staying with the family for about the last five years.
Quinn also mentioned the adoption assistance and post adoption services the department provides. The government provides funding in the form of adoption assistance, for children who are in or have been in DSS custody.
The child must be determined by a professional therapist or psychologist to be a child with special needs.
Those children are then eligible for monthly cash assistance and vendor payments.
The cash assistance is like the foster care room and board payments. The amounts are based on the age of the child.
The vendor payments provides for services or treatments, which can be medical or nonmedical in nature and not covered by any medical insurance program such as Medicaid or private insurance.
The board also:
– Discussed its Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) and how many applications they’ve received.
The program is a one-time cash payment to assist low-income families or individuals with their heating costs. This is a seasonal program.
People who need help paying heating costs applied with the Department of Social Services Nov. 2-Nov. 13.
The staff have seen 549 applications. There are more than 4,000 people who are still eligible.
Households that are actively receiving Food Assistance benefits as of Sept. 30 and have a certification ending October or later were automatically evaluated for the program.
The LIEAP checks will be issued in February 2010.
– Received an update on the move to the new building.
The projected move is for the third week in January. The Children’s Services staff at Mahaley Avenue, Child Support at Southmark Drive and the staff at the North Main Street office located in the Crawford building, will all move in three months later.
Staff have been working for the past few months on switching over its paperwork to an electronic system. Staff were advised to purge papers, files and documents that can be disposed. Also select a date to pack boxes with older inactive records so they can be stored in storage off-site.
– Hire a temporary foster care social worker to help staff meet standards with children in DSS custody. The social services department received a state allocation of $27,997 for caseworker visits.
The state requires that all children in care have face-to-face contact and assessment with their social worker at least once a month.
Social Services Director Sandra Wilkes informed the board that Rowan is one of many counties that failed to meet this standard because of the large number of children in care.
The new allocation is designed to enable the counties to meet those standards.
County Manager Gary Page approved the use of the funds for the new employee.