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2003 News from Mecklenburg County

February 12, 2003

Mecklenburg County Wins Statewide Awards

Charlotte, NC -- Four Mecklenburg County programs have been named among the top county programs in the state for 2002 by the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and will receive an Outstanding County Program Award.

Winners were selected for superior innovation and collaborative efforts in the categories of General Government, Human Services and Public Awareness. The winning programs will be recognized at the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners meeting on Feb. 18. The winning programs are:
Child Occupant Restraint Education (CORE): Nationally and locally, injuries for children involved in motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death. In Mecklenburg County more than 90 percent of all car seats are misused. The misused car seats place children at a higher risk of injury or death in the event of a crash.

The "CORE" program uses parent classes as well as car seat inspection clinics to educate parents. Through a partnership with State Farm Insurance, the program offers incentives for a return visit for parents. The return visits are what set this program apart. The second interaction with parents allows the program to measure the level of knowledge the parents gained during their first interaction. Parents are given a written test and are observed installing the car seat.

Child Development-Community Policing Partners: The Mecklenburg County Child Development-Community Policing Partners program (CD-CP), created in 1996, is a collaborative effort among Area Mental Health (AMH), Department of Social Services (DSS) and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD). The program, a replication of a national model established in 1991 in Connecticut, serves children exposed to violence and who are at risk of abuse and neglect.

The primary goals include early identification and intervention for children and families exposed to violence. The clinic provides trauma response to children who are victims of violence 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The aim also is to establish working relationships among police officers, mental health clinicians and social workers involved with at-risk children and families, resulting in improved service coordination.

There are 13 CD-CP mental health-police partnerships nationally. The Charlotte program is unique in two ways: The partners are multiple government agencies, rather than institutions, and DSS has been included as a partner to address issues of child abuse and neglect.

Systems to Enhance Nutrition Services for the Elderly (SENSE): The SENSE program began in October 2001. The demonstration project combines staff from the Department of Social Services in Mecklenburg County and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The three major components of SENSE are expanding home delivered meal programs to include specialized meals based on health and nutrition needs, integrating an inter-disciplinary team to better meet the needs of seniors and determining the specific nutrition interventions needed to meet the needs of older adults in Mecklenburg County.

Prior to SENSE, no senior citizen dietary program had involved the services of a registered dietitian for nutrition intervention with homebound clients on such a basis.  Mecklenburg County was able to transition 19 percent of its clients from homebound settings to congregate meal programs by combining the efforts of social workers, home aides and registered dietitians. An additional 14 percent of SENSE participants no longer qualify for homebound meals and are not attending a congregate site.
Social workers and in-home aides have observed improvements in weight, blood pressure and the reduction in the number of required medications for some clients.

Community Social Work: The Community Social Work program (CSW) seeks to enhance community development by building upon assets, providing minimally invasive intervention and assisting with the implementation of holistic initiatives that foster community independence. Making less informed residents aware of community resources and systems is one way of working toward their goal.

The program, which is currently staffed by numerous professional social workers, began in 1989 with one Department of Social Services (DSS) social worker stationed in a fragile urban housing complex. The program does not receive state or federal funding and relies completely on county dollars to fund staff salaries, benefits, materials and training budget. No county funds go directly toward CSW community projects or programs. Instead, the Community Social Workers collaborate with like-minded community stakeholders when funding is required to implement programming.

CSW is the only community-based, macro-level social work program sponsored by a county DSS agency in North Carolina.

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