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County SealNews from the Mecklenburg County
Department of Social Services
December 2009
 Mary WilsonGreetings!
As we close out 2009, I want to thank all of our partners for Reaching Out to collaborate with DSS! We hosted a community forum this spring and have had numerous meetings with many of you to identify opportunities for greater collaboration to better serve our mutual customers. We have identified three primary areas we believe will help us work together more seamlessly, remove some of your barriers and provide us with a common framework for working with our mutual customers.
First, many of you have indicated a need for a combined technology portal where we could all look at customer data between agencies. This portal could eliminate customers having to share all their data with DSS to qualify for Medicaid, for example, only to take that same stack of paper to MedLink to qualify for assistance there. This portal would be an incredible undertaking, but we believe we need to start these discussions. The Foundation for the Carolinas has initiated conversations that may help us continue to develop a model that would work for many of us. Clearly, this will require a lot of understanding of each other's processes, definitions and working through confidentiality barriers. 
Second, we have heard that there may be a need for a common assessment tool that allows us to coordinate services, minimize overlap and follow a customer from agency to agency with a consolidated approach using the same parameters. For example, this tool could determine that Ms. Small is at a level 1 and will need assistance from agency A and B, plus GED classes over the next three years. Mr. Turner is at level 3 and will need assistance for 18 months if we can get him stabilized in appropriate housing with wraparound services. We are currently reviewing one such tool and will come back to you with an invitation to discuss whether this is something you would be interested in partnering on.
Third, we are looking at how to build a Bridges Community in Mecklenburg County. Dr. Ruby Payne, author of Bridges out of Poverty, recently spoke to our leadership team about how to build upon the great work that has been started at many local agencies and in the school system. On December 3, we trained 65 leaders to begin the work to develop accurate mental models of poverty, middle class and wealth. We are analyzing reactions to the training to determine next steps. We believe that this training will help us develop new program designs in order to improve relationships with our customers to lead to better outcomes for self sufficiency. If possible, we would like to discuss with you how we can build on this work and continue creating a Bridges Community in Charlotte Mecklenburg.
Finally, One Team, Many Services is our DSS motto and we are growing into it! We are building one team internally by breaking down silos, cross-training and sharing resources. We want to build one team with you to serve our customers by building a model that is seamless. You will be hearing more about these three initiatives in the near future as we seek to get your input on project design and timing. We want to build a better model that meets as many needs as possible; therefore, we need your input at each step of the process.
Thank you for the work you do to serve this community. In many instances, through no fault of their own, over 12 percent of Mecklenburg County residents have been touched by unemployment this year. As you know, this creates a cascade of issues from homelessness, lack of health care, and stress that may result in increased domestic violence, child abuse and elder abuse. Together, we are the community safety net and without you and the important work you do for our community net would be so much weaker.
Thank you again for an awesome year and we look forward to continued expansion of our collaborative partnerships in 2010!
Happy Holidays!
Holiday Greetings 
Carmen GoodmanProgram profile: Community Social Work

Community Social Work is a unit within the Community Resources Division of DSS. The unit places social workers in communities where there are naturally occurring high numbers of residents who may need our help. Community social workers provide both traditional and non-traditional social work services, from taking applications for public assistance to referring people to resources throughout the community. Carmen Goodman (pictured) supervises the Community Social Work Unit.  

Among the areas where Community Social Work has made a huge impact is with various collaborative housing initiatives designed to help those who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless receive support services and secure stable housing.
The opening of Hall House last fall coincided with the launch of the Community Resources Division. Sixty-nine families called Hall House home for nine months. With the assistance of DSS supportive services, 75 percent of the families moved into stable housing when Hall House closed in June. We will continue to work with these families until June 2010 to ensure their success.
Project Hope is an initiative that will rapidly re-house 100 homeless families and individuals. Sixty percent of residents come from shelters, 20 percent from institutions and the remaining 20 percent from the street. Since August, DSS has been providing social workers for this project.
Moore Place is an innovative approach to homelessness that provides housing, case management and mental health and substance abuse services. Spearheaded by the Urban Ministry Center, Moore Place is mainly funded by private donations, such as Myers Park Presbyterian Church, the Mecklenburg County ABC Board, the Leon Levine Foundation, and, most recently, Wells Fargo. DSS will provide five social workers and one disability benefits specialist, which equals an annual contribution in services worth $350,000.  
To find out when and where our community social workers are placed throughout the community, look at the "DSS Satellite Locations" sidebar in this newsletter.
Johnnie WallacePraise for Reaching Out
Johnnie Wallace, president and CEO of the East Side Community Development Corp., sent us the following comments after receiving his first issue of Reaching Out:
Thank you for the leadership you're providing for needed changes in our social service delivery system. Your television interviews, newspaper articles and community talks have given us at East Side CDC important information that has provided constructive alternatives for our customers. We are proud and happy!
- Johnnie Wallace
Saturday OpeningDSS dashboard 
November snapshot
  • 13,439 total visits to DSS's two locations 
  • 54,450 calls answered in the Call Center
  • 6,151 applications for Medicaid/North Carolina Health Choice
  • 863 applications for Work First
  • 5,422 applications for Food & Nutrition Services (food stamps)
Local Poverty Levels
The North Carolina Budget & Tax Center just released a report stating that 18 of the 100 counties in North Carolina have poverty levels above 20 percent. The average poverty level in North Carolina is 14 percent. Here's how Mecklenburg and surrounding counties stack up:
Mecklenburg - Poverty 10.5%; Uninsured 15.8%; Unemployment 11.3%; food stamp participation 119,059.

Cabarrus -  Poverty 10.5%; Uninsured 15.5%; Unemployment 11.4%; food stamp participation 19,675.
Gaston - Poverty 15.1%; Uninsured 16.5%; Unemployment 14%; food stamp participation 35,138.
Iredell - Poverty 13.8%; Uninsured 16%; Unemployment 12.4%; food stamp participation 14,652.
Rowan - Poverty 16.4%; Uninsured 16.1%; Unemployment 13.2%; food stamp participation 19,311.
Union - Poverty 8.5%; Uninsured 14.4%; Unemployment 10.3%; food stamp participation 17,249.
Adoption AwarenessMecklenburg food stamp participation rate at all-time high

According to 2007 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), only 63 percent of the citizens in North Carolina who are eligible to receive food stamps are actually receiving them. That is called our "participation rate." North Carolina ranks 34th in the nation for food stamp participation. Missouri ranks first at 100 percent. Despite NC's low ranking, Mecklenburg County DSS is ensuring that we are administering our Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) program to meet the food and nutritional needs of all eligible residents. 

As of September 2009, Mecklenburg County's food stamp participation rate is 138 percent, with a total of 119,059 participants in our FNS program. We have increased participation in our FNS program by nearly 23 percent over the last nine months. Although the participation rate is determined using 2000 U.S. Census data, extrapolating the number of food stamp eligible citizens based on population growth from 2000 to 2009 still gives Mecklenburg a 105 percent food stamp participation rate as of September 2009.

Adoption Awareness
Partner spotlight: Jacob's Ladder Job Center
Jacob's Ladder Job Center provides basic job readiness skills to improve customers' employability and prepare them for success in the workplace. Trained volunteers help customers identify their barriers to employment and guide them through job searching, preparing resumes and interview practice. Staff also connect with local agencies, including DSS, to address and overcome customer barriers to employment. 
In addition to providing job training and readiness, Jacob's Ladder offers free on-site GED completion classes in partnership with CPCC, as well as technology instruction in applying for jobs online, e-mail etiquette and commonly used workplace software programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Jacob's Ladder advocates for full-time work at living wages with employee benefits for its customers.
Results of last month's  transportation surveyBallot box
In last month's issue of Reaching Out, we wanted to know more about the challenges our community partners face in providing transportation for their customers. Twenty-five individuals responded. Here is an overview of the responses:

How many bus passes do you purchase each month? Eight individual reponses ranged from 25 to 100 per month, with an average of 47.

How much do you spend on bus passes each month? Five responded with dollar amounts ranging from $25 to $500, with the average being $247 each month.
What other costs do you incur in providing transportation assistance? Other costs listed incur include parking, vehicles and maintenance, postage for delivering packages, taxi costs and staff time for providing transportation.
Does providing transportation assistance interfere with your ability to provide core services? Most (53 percent) said no because providing assistance increases customer access to their services. Those who said yes (32 percent) said that it reduces the amount of care provided to their customers and limits their ability to reach more customers.
If there is a human services survey topic you would recommend for future issues of Reaching Out, please contact Clayton Voignier, Deputy Director of Business Affairs, at 704-432-4274.
H1N1Health Department offers H1N1 vaccine to general public
The Mecklenburg County Health Department is now accepting appointments for anyone who wishes to be protected from the H1N1 virus.
Appointments can be scheduled by calling (704) 432-5100 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or online 24 hours a day at www.meckhealth.org.
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.)
In This Issue
Community social work
Reaching Out feedback
DSS data corner
Food stamp participation
Partner spotlight
Transportation survey
H1N1 update
DSS Mission & Vision
Hours & Locations
Satellite Offices
Need help?
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. 
Hours & Locations
(704) 336-3000
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
Fourth Friday of each month
 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
9 a.m. - noon
9 a.m. - noon
9 a.m. - noon
2 - 6 p.m. 
Videos You Can Use! 
Jacob's Ladder
H1N1 Flu Prevention
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.
County Seal large
A publication of
Mecklenburg County
Department of Social Services