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General Information

North Carolina has a Federally Mandated, State Supervised, County Administered, Social Services System. This means the Federal Government authorizes national programs and a majority of the funding and the State Government provides oversight and support but it is the 100 local Social Service Agencies that deliver the services and benefits.

In North Carolina, the single administrative agency is the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). This umbrella agency has evolved over time and now includes separate divisions. Some of the other DHHS divisions with the greatest impact on local offices include:


Division of Medical Assistance (DMA) -- The Division of Medical Assistance (DMA) provides training, technical assistance, and consultation to the local DSS staff who work in the Medicaid and Health Choice programs.
The Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) -- The Division of Child Development and Early Education provides training, technical assistance, and consultation for staff who work with subsidized child care programs.
The Division of Social Services (DSS) -- The Division of Social Services (DSS) provides training, technical assistance, and consultation to the local staff who work in programs for families and children including Child Welfare, Family Support, Work First, Child Support, and Food and Nutrition Services.
Division of Health Service Regulation (DHSR) -- The Division of Health Service Regulation provides training, technical assistance, and consultation for staff who are involved in the supervision and monitoring of group care facilities. Field staff are available to local counties.
Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) -- The Division of Aging and Adult Services provides training, technical assistance, and consultation to local staff who work in programs for adults including Adult Protective Services, Special Assistance, Adult Day Care and In Home services.

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Although many of these Division's programs are Federally mandated, the North Carolina Legislature and Executive Branch also establishes programs for citizens. There are also commissions which develop operating rules that impact county departments of Social Services. These are the Commissions of the North Carolina General Assembly and include the Joint Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Resources; House Welfare Reform Committee; Joint Legislative Public Assistance Commission; Joint Subcommittee on Governmental Operations - Health and Human Resources; Joint Study Commission on Aging; and Senate/House Judiciary Committee.

Specifically, the Division of Social Services (DSS) works very closely with both the chairpersons of these Committees as well as their legislative staff. The Joint Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittee has responsibility for approving the Division's budget while the other legislative committees have responsibility for any statutory changes made to the General Statutes that govern DSS programs and services.

One of the most influential bodies developing operating rules for NC DSS is the Social Services Commission. The North Carolina Social Services Commission is a statutorily based body, G.S. 143B-153. This Commission has the authority to establish rules for the following:

  • Public assistance with the exception of medical assistance
  • Placement and supervision of delinquent children and payment of necessary costs of foster home care for needy and homeless children
  • Payment of state funds to private child-placing agencies and residential child care facilities for care and services provided to children in the custody or placement responsibility of a county department of social services
  • Social services programs established by federal legislation
  • Implementation of portions of Title XX of the Social Security Act
  • Inspection and licensing of maternity homes
  • Inspection and operation of jails and local confinement facilities
  • Rules required by the federal government for social services grants-in-aid.

Membership consists of one member from each congressional district. Members are appointed by the Governor to serve for four-year terms.

Staff support for the Commission is provided by the Director of the Division of Social Services, at the direction of the Secretary of Health and Human Resources. The Office of Director of Social Services provides technical, clerical, logistical and other support for the work of the Commission. The Attorney General's Office serves as legal counsel to the Commission.

In addition to the Social Services Commission, NC DSS, along with NC DMA and NC DCD work closely with both the NC Medical Care Commission and the NC Child Care Commission.

The NC Medical Care Commission administers the tax exempt finance (revenue bonds) program for nonprofit hospitals and other health care facilities. The Commission also adopts rules and regulations for most health care facilities, adult care homes, hospice and home care programs regarding care, safety and welfare of the patients.

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The NC Child Care Commission establishes the rules for the licensing and regulation of child care centers and family child care homes, including higher voluntary standards for star rated licenses of child care programs. Staff support for this Commission is provided by the NC Division of Child Development. The Commission meets quarterly and designates time at each meeting for comments from the public about child care in North Carolina. A list of Commission members and information on child care licensing may be found at the Division of Child Development's web site.

Two Federal departments oversee the major social services programs: the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), specifically the Administration of Children and Families (ACF), and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Department of Health and Human Services oversee the following programs:

Department of Agriculture oversee the following programs

The Role of the Local County Department of Social Services

From birth to death, families count on County Departments of Social Services for direct services that address issues of poverty, family violence and exploitation. County DSSs provide citizens with resources and services to maximize their well-being and self-determination. We aim to prevent abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable citizens- the poor, the children, the aged, the disabled and the sick - as well as, promote self-reliance and self-sufficiency for individuals and families.

County Departments of Social Services provide a wide variety of social work and economic services:

Social Work Services
Child and Family Social Work services which covers:

Adult Social Work services which includes:

  • Protective Services (abuse and neglect)
  • Guardianship Services
  • Adult Foster Care Services
  • Counseling and Arranging for Services for Disabled Adults
  • Adults Day Care
  • Services for the Blind
  • In-Home Aide Services
  • Adult Care Home Recruitment and Evaluation

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Economic Services Programs
County DSSs provide services that that help low income families get and maintain work, support employment, promote quality health care coverage, food assistance, energy assistance and other economic supports for families. These services include:

Additional Services
Some county DSSs oversee Veterans Services, Fraud Investigation, Work Permits and many, many more.

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In addition, NC DSS provides support available to local counties through field staff including:

  • Work First Representatives (WFR)
  • Program Integrity Representatives (PIR)
  • Child Support Consultants (CPC)
  • Children's Programs Representatives (CPR)
  • Local Business Liaisons (LBL)



We strive to keep this information as accurate as possible. If information on this page needs to be updated, please Email us.


Page Modified 01/16/2013

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