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Jefferson County Youth Bureau now operating under Department of Social Services

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The Jefferson County Youth Bureau is now operating under the auspices of its sister agency, the Department of Social Services.

Social Services Commissioner Theresa W. Gaffney said while the move is in the process of being finalized by the state Office of Children and Family Services, a few DSS staff members have already taken added responsibilities to maintain the youth bureau.

She said the merger took place last month when former Youth Bureau Director Virginia “Ginny” J. Harrington retired from the then part-time post.

“There are other departments of social services that have youth bureaus under them, so it wasn’t something unheard of,” Mrs. Gaffney said. “With the youth bureau, it can’t be a nonprofit because they are able to submit for funding. It’s a conflict of interest. If a nonprofit can submit proposals for funding then it could look like they’re funneling money the state gives into their programs.”

The Department of Social Services, however, will use a nonprofit — Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County — to assist with non-core programs, such as the youth bureau’s annual youth recognition awards.

Meanwhile, Social Services Deputy Commissioner James G. Schell also will have the title Youth Bureau Director. DSS Senior Account Clerk Lorie Parker, who originally had worked at the Youth Bureau, also will assist with the bureau.

Mrs. Gaffney said the state Office of Children and Family Services must approve the change, since it allocates money to the county agency. About $98,000 is anticipated this year. Mrs. Gaffney said those funds go “mostly toward programming and scholarships.” The county had put in some money to cover Mrs. Harrington’s part-time salary, Mrs. Gaffney said.

“The state’s working with us, and know we’re handling the program,” she said.

While DSS will oversee allocation of funding local agencies may be awarded through the bureau, no DSS programs and services will change. The Social Services department handles financial assistance needs, child-protective services, foster care, temporary assistance, adoption and adult protective services, among many others.

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