Local News

Vance County sees social service needs skyrocket

Posted October 6, 2011

— The staff at the Vance County Social Services Department is increasingly busy as others, out of work and struggling, seek help with child support cases, food and other aid.

In Vance County, the unemployment rate is 14.3 percent – the fifth highest in the state. The statewide unemployment rate was 10.4 percent in August.

The rate in Vance County is an increase of almost 2 percent from last year, and the need for help is straining the system.

In the past two years, the number of calls to Vance County Social Services has nearly doubled from 3,421 to 6,753. Child support cases are up 20 percent, food and nutrition services are up 17 percent and the majority of other services are up as well.

“We’re seeing people who are in white collar jobs, people who’ve worked all their lives, who never thought they would have to come to social services,” said Kay Fields, director of the county’s social services department. “We see that this is the result of the economy.”

Fields says her staff has had to do a lot of cross-training to accommodate the increased demand.

Kay Fields Vance County social service needs skyrocket

“We actually have a lot of clients who come here to get food and nutrition and Medicaid and other services, or to come here and pay their child support. And they’re coming on their lunch hour, and when they don’t get back to work on time, they’re going to lose pay, and we’re very mindful of that,” she said.

In the past year, Vance County social services has helped about 15,000 people with food and nutrition services and about 12,000 with Medicaid.

Michellie Curtin is one of the long-term unemployed in the county. Three days a week, for the past two years, she has gone to the county’s Employment Security Commission looking for a job in the pharmaceutical industry.

“I had a couple of interviews, but it’s still just very, very hard out here,” she said. “So, I constantly just keep looking and try to keep my head up.”


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  • storchheim Oct 7, 2011

    Southerngirl, there's a pharmacy at WalMart, but it's also a 24-hr store if I'm not mistaken. Given the crime rate in Henderson, do YOU, as a woman - or heck even a man - want to work the night shift? I don't even shop there in the daylight due to unpleasant, borderline threatening incidents starting even before I park my car! I'm sorry, but nothing's worth my life and health.

  • ladyblue Oct 7, 2011

    I used to live in Vance county and i just returned from visiting. I was shocked at the progress made on Dabney drive in new businesses in the last year so i don't' understand the high UI rate there unless it's based on CPS which is a joke, as i am a retired person STUCK in the CPS survey which makes no sense.

  • ohmygosh Oct 7, 2011

    Jet2rdu you forgot to mention that only about 50% of Vance County adults have graduated high school. There is no parental interest or involvement in their kids education (other than perhaps sports)

    Also many can't pass drug tests. When the expanded Lowes opened up about 5 years ago, they had to interview 100 people/job. Most were rejected due to failing a drug test.

  • Rebelyell55 Oct 6, 2011

    This is only the start. Wait until all those leaving Al. come to NC and from other states where the immigration laws are tough. It only going to get worse. If the job bill is pass with giving tax break for companies to hire, they hire, then lay off after the tax credit. This will add even more to the system....

  • Southern Girl Oct 6, 2011

    Maybe Curtin should look at Wal Mart, McDonald's or other places. I would imagine pharmacutical jobs are hard to come by in a county like Vance.

  • maz6123 Oct 6, 2011

    timtooltime777-the state does NOT help pay for temp or contract jobs. They cannot force an employer to keep you employed for years, but if the employer does not provide YEARS not MONTHS of employment, that employer will no longer be entitled to federal funds through the first stimulus. It is now just getting helping people. Took a heck of a long time, so much red tape!

  • jet2rdu Oct 6, 2011

    Vance county had a population of about 43,000 in 2000, and according to this story, "in the past year, Vance County social services has helped about 15,000 people with food and nutrition services and about 12,000 with Medicaid." That is just over a third of the county's population.

    Why is that? Some of it is due in part that the county had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state of NC for the year 2005 as researched by the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Coalition of North Carolina. The rate was 110.4 per 1000 teens, significantly above the state average of 61.7 per 1000 teens.

  • thewayitis Oct 6, 2011

    There needs to be a budget, and when the money is spent, that's all.

  • timtooltime777 Oct 6, 2011

    Open up the old textile mills and put Americans back to work ! Invest in that not 1 yr temp jobs !!!!!!

  • raleighlynn Oct 6, 2011

    I live 3,000 miles away from my husband, who is in California. I work for the state like I did for years before we were married. Looked for a job in California for two years before making the decision to live across the country from my beloved. You do what you have to do, but that doesn't make it any easier.