New Director of Meck DSS calls job "exhilarating and exhausting" - | WBTV Charlotte

New Director of Meck. DSS calls job "exhilarating and exhausting".

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Peggy Eagan knew she what she was getting into when she accepted the job of Director of Mecklenburg Department of Social Services.

Now that's she been on the job two weeks, Eagan - a licensed social worker - says "it has been exhilarating and exhausting."

Eagan says she's trying to learn as much as she can about DSS as fast as she can.

The department's budget is more than $150M. There are six locations, and five divisions, including Economic Services, Youth and Family Services, Community Resource Division, Adult Services, and Business Affairs.

There are 1200 employees at DSS.

Eagan spent Friday visiting all DSS locations in Mecklenburg County. She says she wanted to meet, greet, and listen to employees.

"I think it's important they know who I am and it's also an opportunity for me to get to know who they are" says Eagan. "And start to understand what the challenges are, start to understand what the strengths are, and then where are some of the places we can improve service."

Eagan is taking over the job after the former Director, Mary Wilson, was fired last September.

In a letter upholding the decision to terminate Wilson, then County Manager Harry Jones wrote Wilson "engaged in serious misconduct in violation of County policy as follows:

  • Your failure to be honest, tell the truth and not withhold information
  • Your failure to be impartial in the delivery of services and performance of duties
  • Your failure to show respect and courtesy for others
  • Your failure to cooperate and work well with others

The panel also had serious concerns about your inability to improve your leadership competences over three review periods. 

Your management decisions and management style failed to conform to directives, resulting in numerous formal and informal complaints and an atmosphere in DSS of distrust, fear, suspicion, intimidation, and uncertainty."

The new Director says her style is different.

"All I can say certainly is none of that is my style" Eagan says. "I think the fact that I'm going out and helping staff understand that I am accessible will make one big step in that way."

While Eagan works to improve employee morale, she knows the public's perception of DSS is not flattering.

"Any decision we make is open to criticism" she says. "Parents think we're too assertive and we sometimes don't understand their perspective. The general community thinks we aren't assertive enough. We don't act as quickly and directly as they would like to see us."

Eagan says her first priority is to hire a new director of Youth and Family Services. The current director is retiring at the end of the year. Eagan says she wants to make sure there is a smooth transition in that division.

"Keeping children safe in this community is one of our highest priorities in DSS so we have to have leadership to get that done" Eagan says.

The new head of DSS also wants to see if the department has been following county, state and federal policies.

The county has internal audits planned for all departments, including DSS.

Eagan says she has some questions like: "are we providing the best service in those divisions? Are we being accountable to our funders and to our community."

Copyright 2013 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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