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9/10/13: Poloncarz Announces Reorganization Plan for Department of Social Services


Plan Creates Child Protective Service Team, Realigns Department into Three Divisions

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz submitted a resolution to the Erie County Legislature authorizing a reorganization of the Erie County Department of Social Services (“DSS”). The reorganization plan, which will include the creation of a new seven-member Child Protective Service team and add three new management positions, is the first overhaul DSS has undergone in several years. The plan is budget-neutral due to available budgeted, unexpended funds which will be used for this purpose.

“While we have seen recent successes in economic development, Erie County remains challenged by a high amount of poverty. Transforming our Department of Social Services from a largely reactive organization into one that is more proactive and forward-leaning is necessary in order to make progress on this front,” said Poloncarz. “A reengineered DSS will better position Erie County to be more flexible and adaptable in dealing with poverty issues, helping residents to achieve independence. This budget-neutral plan is a big step forward in helping Erie County handle poverty and its related problems in a more efficient, effective and timely manner.”

The Department of Social Services is the largest in Erie County, with an annual budget of $578 million. DSS includes units such as Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF”), the Home Energy Assistance Program (“HEAP”), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”), Child and Adult Protective Services, and Juvenile Justice Services. The reorganization plan will realign DSS into three broad divisions: Public Assistance, Individual Protection, and Administrative Support.

Commissioner of Social Services Carol Dankert-Maurer said, “Erie County has experienced a dramatic increase in its caseloads over the past several years, resulting in significant additional costs to taxpayers. This plan will give the Department of Social Services the needed capacity to address the sources of these increases, and will benefit both taxpayers and the families that DSS assists.”

“County government is a critical partner with the not-for-profit community in ensuring the safety of children, promoting economic stability and providing safety net services,” said Michael Weiner, President of the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County and former Commissioner of Social Services. “This proposed reorganization will enhance the Department of Social Service’s ability to deliver on this vital mission while assuring increased accountability.”

The legislature will consider the resolution adopting the reorganization plan at their September 12, 2013 session.