LUMBERTON — The Robeson County Department of Social Services will roll out a program that uses new technology to enable child welfare and adult services workers to spend more time with their clients and less time doing paperwork at the office.
Beginning Monday, employees will begin training on a software program offered by Ohio-based Northwoods that provides workers in the field the ability to obtain information and update documentation using iPads. The additional time the system allows workers to spend in the field with families is expected to improve safety outcomes and enhance protection of endangered children and adults.
The program will also save the county money, according to Faye Lovell, a finance officer with DSS. She told the department’s board Tuesday that in addition to a savings in employee overtime, there will be a savings on the wear and tear on county vehicles and mileage.
The cost of the entire program is $657,604. There will be 99 Child Welfare and Adult Services employees using the iPads, Lovell said.
According to Lovell, the employees should be ready to start using iPads by mid-October.
During Tuesday’s meeting, board members also received brief updates on what DSS is planning to help make the Christmas season a happy one for needy children.
Dawn Gavasci, adoption and foster care program manager, hopes that DSS will receive at least $8,000 to $10,000 this year from the United Way to provide Christmas for children in foster care. Currently, Gavasci said, there are 260 children in Robeson County in foster care.
“We would need $28,000 to handle all of the children currently in foster care,” Gavasci told the board.
Anthony Dial, child support manager, said that applications for the annual Empty Stocking Fund that DSS sponsors with The Robesonian will be taken from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 19 at the DSS building on N.C. 711.
Dial said that Jansen King, a former member of the DSS board, will bring 50 student volunteers from the Public Schools of Robeson County to assist.
“These students are a huge help,” he said. “With Ms. King’s help we can basically complete the entire application process in a little more than half a day.”
Dial said that $47,000 contributed to the fund last year provided Christmas to 940 of the 1,945 children ages 13 and under who were registered for the program.
Dial told the board that there is only a three-week period between Thanksgiving and Christmas during which donations can be collected.
“I would like to have some way to raise funds for the Empty Stocking all year,” Dial said.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.