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Department of Social Services holds forum

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

The Pulaski County Department of Social Services (PCDSS) is hosting a forum on Friday at their offices on Commerce Street for New River Community College students. Thirty students studying Human Services at NRCC are expected to attend panel discussions given by 15 DSS agency professionals who will talk about the work they do and some of the challenges that they face.

According to DSS consultant Jill Williams, the panel discussion is meeting two needs, the first being that despite excellent health benefits, DSS has real trouble filling positions as well as keeping those positions filled. This has to do with the nature of the job, which can be emotionally draining.

“There can be some heartwarming exciting times where you see some successes,” said Williams. “But there’s a lot of hard stuff that people see. People don’t come to DSS to celebrate their successes usually.”

The forum also aims to give Human Services students a more informed view of their career paths and ways to improve their career outcomes within DSS.

“Community college completion rates are low,” said Williams. “Not just at NRCC but all over the nation. Life gets in the way of students completing their college education. Studies show that students who have a good idea of a midrange career plan beyond college are more likely to be able to withstand those challenges and complete college.”

The Pulaski County Department of Social Services serves the community in a variety of ways. According to department statistics, 10,225 people or one-third of the population of Pulaski County were served by the Benefits staff in 2017. The agency paid out $66.7 million in benefits to Pulaski County clients in that same year for programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, TANF (temporary assistance to needy families) and Energy Assistance Funds. More than 1,200 children were represented in Child Protective Services referrals and 146 adults were represented in Adult Protective Services referrals in 2017. Adult Protective Services normally refers to elderly individuals who are suspected of being abused in some way.

 

The forum will take place Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Pulaski County Department of Social Services.

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