DSS to hold open house

Published 11:00 am Friday, May 18, 2018

Cumberland County’s Department of Social Services (DSS) on 71 Community Center Drive off Anderson Highway is seeking to communicate new changes the office is undertaking by holding a community open house Wednesday beginning at noon.

Director Liz Donnelly said the event will include refreshments and a chance to look inside the reworked facility. She said the event is for members of the public, clients and community partners, and said four of the five board of directors will attend.

Donnelly said changes to the Cumberland DSS building include adding toys, furniture and pictures to the front entrance to create a more comforting atmosphere.

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“The way I think about being of service to the public is that nobody wants to have to come to our office,” Donnelly said. “And if you’re coming here, it’s probably a really hard day to begin with. So you probably want something that’s a little bit more warmed up.”

She noted changes to the observation room for family visitation where toys and other items have been added to create a similar environment for children.

“It’s an actual place where children want to come in and be comfortable,” Donnelly, who became director in September following the retirement of Karen Blackwell, said.

Going into the next fiscal year, Donnelly said the DSS is filling a position and creating a new position in the Family Services Unit to meet the volume of intakes in that unit, which she said is the highest it has been in three years.

“We’re going to keep moving ahead, and we’re going to keep staying aligned with the Commissioner for the Department of Social Services, and we’re going to follow his vision of supporting people and moving them out of poverty,” Donnelly said.

Duke Storen was recently appointed as Commissioner for the Department of Social Services by Governor Ralph Northam, who was governor-elect at the time.

She also noted a more intentional focus on customer service from the department, including further connecting with area organizations such as Cumberland County Public Schools and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

She thanked supporters and members of the board for their support, and said the office is looking forward to continuing to grow and change to help best meet peoples’ needs.

To learn more, contact the department at (804) 492-4915.