by: Tenikka Smith Updated:
CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. - "I think social media is wonderful but I don't think there's any subsitute for face to face," said Cabarrus County Director of Human Services Ben Rose.
He said that is the motivation behind a series of community forums hosted by the Cabarrus County Department of Human Services. The first forum is Thursday night in Kannapolis.
Rose said his agency recently consolidated Aging Services, the Department of Transportion and DSS<<DHS?>> under one roof.
It's been six months but Rose said people are still adjusting to the change and may have questions.
"We're going to have staff there after the forums so they can speak one on one with our staff."
While the focus of the forums was initially all about the consolidation, Rose decided to adjust the agenda to talk about the problems plaguing the state Department of Health and Human Services. He's expecting to field a lot of questions from people who've seen delays in getting food stamps or who were among the more than 100 residents who got new Medicaid cards with the wrong information.
"Some people are really struggling and they're trying to figure out what's going on and they feel like nobody cares," said resident Tanya Mitchell.
While it's up to the state to re-send Medicaid cards, Cabarrus County DHS has been working to tackle the food stamp backlog despite problems with the state's computer system.
In September, the county brought on 10 temporary employees, added a phone schedule solely devoted to calls about food stamp applications and staff worked overtime and weekends
As of Thursday, county officials said they were down to 506 applications compared to the thousands they were sorting through in September.
Earlier this week, Gov. Pat McCrory said his administration was making progress and he's personally stepped in to make sure improvements are put in place.
Mitchell, a Cabarrus DHS client, plans to tell her church members about the local forums and said she's glad to see the county is taking a personal approach to keep residents in the loop.
"There's a trust factor that will start to evolve out of this," Mitchell said.
Cabarrus County DHS Community Forums:
Jan. 23, 6:30 p.m. - Kimball Lutheran Church - 101 Vance St., Kannapolis
Feb. 20, 6:30 p.m. - Midland Town Hall - 4293B Highway 24-27 East, Midland
Feb. 27, 6:30 p.m. - Mount Pleasant Senior Center - 8615 Park Drive, Mount Pleasant
March 20, 6:30 p.m. - United Methodist Church - 4560 N. Hwy 49, Harrisburg
March 27, 6:30 p.m. - Concord Senior Center - 331 Corban Ave., Concord
For more information, call 704-920-1400.