Board supports regionalization of Social Services

Published 3:31 pm Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Tyrrell County Board of Commissioners resolved on May 24 to support a study of consolidating North Carolina’s 100 county departments of social services in 30 or fewer regional “authorities.”

The board believes that changing the administrative structure of social services “is not a small endeavor.” If done at all, it ought to be after a thorough study of options.

And the board contends that the child welfare/protection system in Tyrrell County “is not broken and it is not in need of an extreme structural change.”

So, rather than the state moving forward with a restructuring plan, the Tyrrell commissioners request creation of a study commission “to thoroughly evaluate all possible models of social services administration and include all stakeholders in the study process prior to a decision being made regarding any model of forced regionalization.”

Local stakeholders would include county social services board, director and attorney as well as county commissioners and county manager.

Two similar bills were filed in the General Assembly in early April.

The proposed legislation states that “the state Department of Health and Human Services shall develop a plan for regional organization, administration, and governance of the social services system in North Carolina. The plan shall recommend a system of public authorities that includes no more than 30 regions and is operational no later than January 1, 2022. The plan will have the effect of transforming North Carolina’s State-supervised, county-administered system into a State-supervised, regionally administered system.”

Senate Bill 594 bounced from one committee to another before landing in Judiciary on May 26, where it remained as of June 29.

House Bill 608 was sent to the Committee on Homelessness, Foster Care, and Dependency on April 10 and had not been reported out at the end of June.

In the late 1940s Joseph W. Hamilton was Tyrrell County welfare director and Myrtle Mitchell was his sole assistant, one oldtimer remembers. They occupied a corner office in the Agricultural Building which was replaced by the Courthouse fountain. Tyrrell DSS, still county administered, now has a staff of 17 housed temporarily in the Cohoon Center.