BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS: County gets update from DSS director

BAKERSVILLE – The Mitchell County Board of Commissioners at a special-called meeting this past Tuesday received information about respite and an update from Department of Social Services Director Paula Holtsclaw.

A Caring Alternative is a social services group based out of Morganton and is working on opening a respite home in McDowell County.

Sheila Perkins of A Caring Alternative said the group provides many services. A respite home, she added, allows children in need from age 6 to 18 to spend a few hours, a night or even a few weeks inside the supervised home.

The McDowell home is Medicaid-funded service with a daily cost is $300 per child.

“It would be a case-by-case decision on how we fill the home and what is seen as a priority,” Perkins said. “I think it would be very doable for a lot of other counties to start something. We’re just really interested in helping to provide.”

Commissioner Jacob Willis invited Perkins to the meeting. He said he sees the value of a respite home.

“The reason I asked Sheila if she’d come tell us about it is that it would eliminate having a child spend the night at the office if we get them late,” he said.

The board did not take any action with regard to respite homes.

Holtsclaw gave the board a copy of her department’s August statistics and discussed several changes she has made to her department after it was audited in August.

Holtsclaw said she had a workshop and is continuing to keep her workers focused on the fundamental principles of social work.

“I held a big workshop at the hospital for all of child welfare to go over what they found and what I envisioned is the way child welfare will work,” Holtsclaw said. “That vision is a family focused vision. We have something called the Principles of Partnership and the Children’s Bill of Rights of what the expectations are from the state. All of the workers now have those documents posted in their office or on their door so they can go back and look at it.”

Holtsclaw said she also had her workers create a work plan that contains four of five things they have been assigned to do as well as two or three things of their own on which they feel the need to improve.

“I’ll hold them to it,” she said of the plans. “They’ll go over their plans every 90 days with me.”

Holtsclaw said she changed around the department’s supervisors. She added she plans to leave the roles as is for six months before rotating again so all the supervisors know all the cases and families.

Holtsclaw said she is working to ensure her employees are trained.

“Right now, there are six staff members in child welfare who have been to all the trainings,” Holtsclaw said. “I have two that lack just one class and the rest are new workers who have to get the training done within a year, but I have those set up.”

The MItchell News

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