Mecklenburg Co. announces new DSS director - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Mecklenburg Co. announces new DSS director

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Mecklenburg County has a new director for the Department of Social Services.

Interim County Manager Bobbie Shields announced that Peggy Eagan will start as director on June 17.

"I have an entire process that I'll put in place to assess every nook and cranny of DSS" Eagan says. "I believe in effectiveness, efficiency, transparency and accountability and I will apply those across the board in all five divisions I will be responsible for."

Mecklenburg County DSS has a budget of more than $161M; with 1,200 workers, and 256,000 people receiving service of some sort.

Eagan, a licensed social worker with 30 years experience, will make $158,000 a year, and oversee Public Assistance programs; Services for seniors and adults with disabilities; protective services for children and adults.

The county wants her to form a new organizational model for Human Services.

 Eagan, who currently works as the Executive Director of Children and Family Services Center, admits she has never led an agency as big as DSS.

But the longtime community advocate says she knows what programs are needed, and she has a plan of action.

"I will be meeting with individual workers in all five divisions. I want to do ride alongs. I want to do home visits. I want to bring together focus groups of various staff members and community members" Eagan says. "One of the first things I'll be doing is reaching out to both state of North Carolina and to the Federal Government to the key players  to make sure we're meeting all the rules and regulations."

Eagan says she has no reason to believe DSS is not in compliance  "but as far as risk management that's one of the first things that I do."

DSS has been reeling. Critics says some workers are not doing their jobs properly. And county leaders fired the former Director, Mary Wilson, in September 2012.

Wilson is an attorney. She was hired in 2008 as DSS Director even though she did not have a back ground in social work.

County officials tell WBTV the search process this time around was different.

County leaders say "the candidates were interviewed by two panels – the County Manager/Executive Team and a group of department directors. Additionally, the finalists met with the DSS leadership team.  The previous hiring included a small community group that received a presentation from two finalists and the Board of Commissioners voted for the appointment." 

Mecklenburg County officials say "since that time the Board  moved to implement a Human Services Agency structure and the responsibility for hiring the DSS Director is the managers."

Interim County Manager Bobbie Shields says they made a point to find a new Director with experience.

"We believe it's important for people to come with a complete knowledge of the operation of the organization" Shields says. "She brings that. But what really attracted us to Peggy is her involvement in building relationships."

Shields says he wants Eagan to first focus on "the importance of employees, the importance of good service and the importance of relationship - internally and externally."

Shields says "employees of Mecklenburg County are somewhat traumatized right now because of all the things going on. And I know we provide good service. We want the community to know we provide good service."

Eagan holds a master's degree in social work from Indiana University, she was named Woman of the Year by the Indianapolis Star in 1996, was a registered lobbyist and served on the Board of Directors of Prevent Child Abuse America, according to the announcement.

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