DSS Community Newsletter logo
County SealNews from the Mecklenburg County
Department of Social Services
November 2009
 Mary WilsonGreetings!

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Reaching Out, a monthly electronic newsletter designed to keep you, our community partner, informed of the many things happening at the Department of Social Services, how they affect the customers we serve, and the impact they have on your organization.
We believe the phrase "One Team, Many Services" applies both internally and externally. Internally, we are continuing to cross the silos and connect our services for the benefit of every customer in our care. Externally, we want to make sure we are connecting our customers to your resources, and we want to ensure you are taking full advantage of our new ideas and new direction. I hope you find this newsletter fresh, informative and -- most of all -- relevant to your needs and concerns. Please share any feedback so we can meet your needs.
We hope you enjoy the newsletter. We are Reaching Out to serve! 
Mary E. Wilson, Director
Year in Review coverDSS 2009 Year in Review
It has been an eventful year -- both for the residents of Mecklenburg County and for the agencies, businesses and nonprofits that serve them. DSS is no exception, and the 2009 Year in Review tells the story of how DSS continued to be the community's safety net in spite of record demand, budget cuts and a department-wide reorganization. Click here to read it.
LIEAPProgram spotlight: LIEAP
The North Carolina North Carolina Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) assists eligible households in Mecklenburg County that need help paying their heating bills this winter. Residents must apply in the counties in which they reside during the two-week application period. 

8 a.m. - 5p.m. Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 12 p.m. Saturdays
Mecklenburg County DSS, Kuralt Centre
301 Billingsley Road, Charlotte, NC 28211
Mecklenburg County DSS, Chapin Hall at the Valerie C. Woodard Center
Need more information? Click here to learn more about eligibility requirements and documentation applicants should bring when applying, or call 704-353-1500.

Adoption AwarenessNovember is National Adoption Month
In Mecklenburg County, there are currently about 960 children in the custody of the Department of Social Services (DSS). Of those, more than 300 are available for adoption. DSS is focused on securing permanency for every child placed in its custody, either by reuniting them with their family or finding them a permanent, adoptive placement.
This November, consider becoming an adoptive parent. You don't need to be perfect to be a perfect parent. You just need to open your heart and your home to a waiting child. Click here to view an ad from the national campaign.
Next Orientation Session
When: Tuesday, November 17 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: 5800 Executive Center Drive 
Click here to learn more about adoption or call 704-336-KIDS (5437).
Holiday ProgramsImportant changes in DSS holiday programs
The holidays have always been a special time at DSS. Traditionally, we have administered several programs that linked sponsors to those in our community, such as youth in custody and the elderly, who might otherwise go without a holiday meal or gifts.
To ensure we are well positioned to meet the needs of increasing numbers of customers who are coming in for core services such as food stamps and Medicaid, we will no longer administer holiday programs. Instead, DSS will partner with the Charlotte Observer Empty Stocking Fund, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and The Salvation Army.
Customers can request holiday assistance in one of two ways:
1. Apply in person at the Christmas Center
Dates: Now through November 6
Times: Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m
               Saturdays 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.  
2. Apply in person at DSS Kuralt Centre or Chapin Hall
Dates: Now through November 6
Times: Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Customers must provide the following information for each individual in the household requesting assistance:
  • Identification
  • Social Security Number or W7
  • Official proof of birth date
  • Verification of monthly income 
For more information, please call Salvation Army Client Services at 704-716-2643. Click here for information about volunteering or donating to the Christmas Bureau. 
DSS Foster Children
Children in DSS foster care who are age 14 and under can be assisted through the Salvation Army's Angel Tree Program. Foster parents will receive a form letter and Angel Tree application in the mail requesting that they complete the application and return it to the Christmas Bureau via mail. They may also go online and submit the application electronically. The letters will emphasize the importance of providing three suggestions for gifts for the children. Please remind foster parents to complete application and return it promptly by November 6, 2009.
Housing ProgramsNew housing assistance programs
We are excited to announce three new housing assistance programs designed to enhance DSS customers' ability to secure or maintain safe housing while gaining self sufficiency. 
The programs provide rental subsidies for families and home repair grants for senior homeowners. They are funded by grants awarded to DSS and collaborative local partners by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). DSS will collaborate with these partners to provide referrals to the DSS Housing Resource Coordinator for existing customers who meet the program requirements.
These programs are available only to existing DSS customers. To learn more, call DSS at (704) 336-3150.

Library by Mail

DSS links homebound seniors to library-by-mail service   
Jim Eddens doesn't get out much anymore. Advanced in age, he spends most of his time in his apartment with his pets and has his meals delivered to him by the DSS Senior Citizen Nutrition Program.
Sandra Ward, a site coordinator for the program, told him about the Library-by-Mail Program, a new partnership between DSS and the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (PLCMC) to deliver books, music and movies to homebound seniors.
"He is just delighted with the service, and there's a lightness to him that wasn't there before." Ward said. "Being homebound made him feel disconnected from the rest of the world, and he worried about not using his brain enough. This program has lifted him out of the depression that so many seniors feel when their ability to leave the house becomes limited."
Among the County's goals is to help seniors maintain their independence and age with dignity in their own homes. The partnership between DSS and PLCMC through the Library-by-Mail program enables seniors to keep their minds -- and imaginations -- active from the comfort and safety of their homes.
Saturday OpeningDSS responds to increasing need
Demand for our services continues to rise in response to the economic recession. In the fiscal year to date, as compared to the same time period last year, we have experienced the following increases:
  • 1,068 customers visited our intake locations at the Kuralt Centre and Chapin Hall on September 8. That is the highest number we have experienced so far this quarter.
  • Food & Nutrition Services (food stamps) applications are up 45 percent 
  • Work First applications are up 171 percent.
  • Medicaid and North Carolina Health Choice Applications are up 2 percent. The small increase may be attributed to the fact that food is a basic necessity, and customers do not consider applying for medical assistance until they become ill or require immediate medical care.

CMS logo

 Partner spotlight: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

It is widely believed that education is the single most important factor in determining a person's future income, employment prospects, long-term health and self-sufficiency. We want to ensure that the children we serve -- whether they are in our custody or receiving services -- have the opportunity to receive a quality education.

That is why we have partnered with CMS to identify almost 3,200 children since July 1 who were automatically eligible for free and reduced lunch because they were receiving food stamps. This helped CMS realize potential revenues of more than $2 million. 

In September, DSS partnered with CMS to host the first Foster Parent Education Summit. Parent University offered classes focusing on topics such as advocating for your child, building study skills and checking your child's progress online. More than 100 foster parents and 75 foster children participated in the event. The next summit is scheduled for January 2010. Click here to watch the video re-cap of the event. 
We are also partnering with CMS's Graphics Production Center, which has saved the agency several thousand dollars in printing costs so far this year.
SurveyCommunity parter survey: Transportation
The lack of reliable transportation is a major barrier to self-suffiency. We recognize that making transportation available to customers is a significant challenge for our community partners, especially in the face of increased demand and shrinking budgets.
We would like to learn how our community partners are addressing this challenge so that we can explore creative solutions. Please take the following survey. 
Free mental health awareness DVD for youth and teens 
Suicide, depression, anger, anxiety, learning disabilities, ADD and eating disorders are all challenges facing our youth each day.

Through My Eyes is a must-see program for young people, parents and all of those concerned about the youth in our community. This award-winning, Emmy-nominated 30-minute documentary discusses the mental health issues of youth and features teens and their families sharing their emotional and mental health challenges and how they sought to overcome them. The film aims to stamp out stigma, raise awareness and improve community-wide support for youth who struggle with various mental health related challenges.

To receive your FREE copy, please send an e-mail to JLCMentalHealthAwareness@gmail.com and be sure to include your name, mailing address and telephone number. 
In This Issue
DSS Year in Review
Adoption awareness
Holiday programs
Housing assistance
Library by mail
Increasing need
Partner spotlight
Transportation survey
Free DVD
Need help?
Hours & Locations
Kuralt Centre
(704) 336-3150
Mon-Fri: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sat: 8 a.m. - noon
Kuralt Centre
301 Billingsley Road
Chapin Hall @ Valerie C. Woodard Center
3205 Freedom Drive
DSS Satellite Locations
Salvation Army Center of Hope
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
9 a.m. - noon
9 a.m. - noon
 1-4 p.m.
1-4 p.m.
1st & 2nd Monday of each month
9 a.m. - noon
10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 
1:30 - 4 p.m.
Solomon House
Last Friday of each month
 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
9 a.m. - noon
9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
9 a.m. - noon
Check Out Our Videos! 
Foster Parent Summit video 
DSS Coupon Lady 
DSS 90th Birthday
H1N1 Flu Prevention
Community Partners
Celebrate Living
Need Help?
Families in Crisis
Guide to Services
Contact Sandra Abbate at 704-336-4826 if you would like to order these items for your organization. Please indicate the quantity you need.
Our Mission
To provide economic and social services to sustain and/or improve the quality of life for Mecklenburg County citizens.
Our Vision 
To be an involved and recongized leader in human services, valued by our stakeholders because of our needs-based customer focus in the delivery of services. We will help create a resilient community by proactively investing in our employees, operations and services, and by developing impactful relationships for the benefit of our customers. 
County Seal large
A publication of
Mecklenburg County
Department of Social Services 
Upcoming Community Events
Historic West End Market
The Historic West End Market encourages civic pride and promotes cultural identity while enhancing the positive image of the Historic West End. Explore gallery creations from local artists, vintage clothing, antiques and delicious ethnic foods. You will also discover an array of trendy accessories, farm fresh produce, bath products, green items, jewelry, fresh-cut flowers, home décor and statuary offerings. Beginning in October the Market will feature a performing arts component, titled Arts @ The Market Live at noon. Free parking is provided.
When: Every Saturday, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Where: 1601 West Trade Street, between JC Smith University and Johnson & Wales University 
"Life Without" world premiere
The Center for Community Transitions and The Light Factory present a moving series of short films made by Charlotte youth of incarcerated parents. Click here for more information.
When: Thursday, November 19 at 6 p.m.
Where: Duke Energy Theater at Spirit Square, 345 North College Street
Post your event here!
Would you like to post your upcoming event in our newsletter? Just e-mail DSSNewsNow@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov. Please provide the following information:
Name of event
Purpose and description
Date and time
RSVP instructions and registration deadline
Contact for additional information
Additional information (meal provided, parking instructions, etc.)