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Chatham County Social Services earns top state rating

By Debra Henzey
Posted Monday, May 22, 2006

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Pittsboro, NC - Chatham County’s Department of Social Services received good news in May that they are one of only five such agencies in the state to receive the 100% rating as part of the state’s Child and Family Services Review. “It is the first time that the county has ever received this important distinction and we earned it through focused, hard work by our employees”, said John Tanner, director of the department.

Tanner added that it is “very difficult to earn the 100% rating because of the many state and federal standards and laws that we must follow, along with the volumes of paperwork required for each child welfare case.” The state’s review requires the completion of 60+ pages of documentation on each case, including interviews of family members, other agencies providing services to the family and the social workers.

“We made it a top priority to improve our services because we want the best for the children and their families. We want to provide the quality and levels of support needed so that children can stay with their families, whenever that is possible,” Tanner said.

Over the past few years, the county’s Department of Social Services focused its activities on “getting positive results for families and meeting state and federal laws and policies. We now have confirmation from the state that our intense focus and hard work have led to the desired results,” Tanner added.

He commended the leadership of Barbara Hollis, administrator of the county’s Family Services program, and all of the social workers in the program. “The state specifically commended the county for our effective social work practices in protecting children and providing family support.”

County Manager Charlie Horne said that he is very proud of the Department’s 100% rating. “The state does not bestow this rating on any Department of Social Services unless they are meeting the highest of standards. It also means that our county has good people and effective processes in place to meet one of our most crucial needs—providing for the safety of our children.”

The purpose of the two-year review, conducted by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, is to help all social services departments effectively respond to reported child welfare cases. While the review is performed at the state level, the state is monitoring the county’s compliance with federal laws and policies related to child protection.

The state review process looks at seven major “outcome” areas related to children’s safety and well-being as well as stability of home and family life. The target outcomes are:

Children are first and foremost protected from abuse and neglect;

Children are safely maintained in their homes whenever possible and appropriate;

Children have permanency and stability in their living situations;

The continuity of family relationships and connections is preserved for children;

Families have enhanced capacity to provide for their children’s needs;

Children receive appropriate services to meet their educational needs; and

Children receive adequate services to meet their physical and mental health needs.

 
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