Department of Social Services

Mission and Services

The Department of Social Services provides children, adult, and family services to County citizens and residents who are in need and vulnerable in order to improve the lives of children, adults, and families.
 Core Services 
  • Children and adult services including: protective services, foster care, adoptions, and family preservation services
  • Family services including: temporary cash assistance, food supplement, medical assistance, homeless prevention and intervention, energy assistance, emergency assistance, and child care assistance.
  • Empowering families to be a part of the County’s economic development.
Strategic Focus in FY 2019 
  • Increase the safety and stability of children and adults by completing protective service responses within the mandatory period.
  • Stabilize families and individuals in need through increased access to services, resulting in an increase in the number of vulnerable eligible citizens achieving stability through integrated services.
  • Increase the focus on intervention for at-risk youth by assisting individuals, adults, and families in achieving and maintaining permanence in the community.

Agency Goals and Objectives

To provide intervention services to abused, neglected, or impoverished children, adults, and families in order to ensure safety and reduce the risk in their living environment.

Objective 1.1 - Through intervention services, increase the safety and stability of children by  completing investigation and alternative responses within the mandatory period. 
Trend and Analysis  
Completing Child Protective Services (CPS) responses within the mandatory time frame is critical for child well-being and safety. In FY 2017, the agency observed a slight increase in total CPS responses believed to be the result of increased education and awareness efforts. 
Since the inception of Alternative Response (AR), lower risk responses are handled in a way that provides more supportive services for families while higher risk responses follow an investigative path.
Investigative responses are complex in nature and often require a different level of effort and collaboration with investigative and legal partners, making goal attainment more challenging.  
For FY 2017, the final combined compliance rate was 95% (IR: 91%, AR: 99%).  In FY 2017 there were more cases that required an Investigative Response (53% IR; 47% AR).  In FY 2018 and FY 2019, the goal is to meet the 95% standard on average over the fiscal year.
Objective 1.2 - Through intervention services, increase the safety and stability of vulnerable adults by completing investigations within the mandatory period.
Trend and Analysis  
 The agency supports elderly and disabled adults to ensure they are safe and able to remain in their homes and communities.  As the County's elderly (at least 65 years old) and vulnerable adult populations increase, it is anticipated that the demand for these services will also increase.  From FY 2014 to FY 2017, the number of Adult Protective Service (APS) Investigations increased by 34%.
Prior to 2017, Maryland tracked APS investigations that were closed within 30 days.  Due to the many challenges that exist in meeting compliance goals including enlisting cooperation of relevant parties and legal and fiscal challenges related to investigating complex financial and health care issues, Maryland now allows 60 days to complete adult investigations.  This legislative change, along with the implementation of new compliance monitoring tools that focus on meeting specific goals and identifying and removing barriers to maintaining compliance, have helped the agency make great strides in meeting the objective of timely completion of APS investigations. 

Stabilize families and individuals in need through increased access to services.
Objective 2.1 - Increase the number of vulnerable eligible households achieving stability through integrated eligibility services.
Trend and Analysis
 The agency observed a significant caseload decrease in the integrated services case load over the past three years which is directly related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  
The reduction reflects the subsequent takeover of a substantial portion of medical assistance applications by the Maryland Health Connection.  The remaining medical assistance caseload consists of over 25,500 cases of primarily aged and disabled adults and remains relatively stable.  The Food Supplement Program application rate, after dropping from FY 2015 to FY 2017, began leveling off in the end of FY 2017 and into FY 2018.  This trend occurs for the medical assistance and energy assistance programs as well.  The TCA caseload has remained steady, but there is an increase in submitted applications, suggesting that the economic need is greater than the pool of eligible applicants.  Based on these trends, it is expected that the integrated caseload will remain stable.

To assist individuals, adults, and families in need to achieve and maintain permanence in the community through increased access to services.
Objective 3.1 - Maintain the percentage of vulnerable eligible adults served achieving permanency at 99.0%.
Trend and Analysis  
 The agency provides a range of services to assist adults and families in achieving and maintaining appropriate permanency in their communities, which supports the sustainability of independence and self-sufficiency.  On average, approximately 374 individuals remain stable and in the community supported by adult resource programs.  Over 99% of individuals receiving adult services have remained in the community from FY 2015 to FY 2017 and this rate is expected to remain stable.
Objective 3.2 - Increase the percentage of children involved with services provided in the home while remaining with their family and avoiding foster care placement.
Trend and Analysis
 Family Preservation is a supportive service that seeks to impact the stability of families by addressing core issues within the family structure.  As a continuation of this practice, the agency offers services from a family centered practice framework in which the objective is to keep families intact.  Efforts used to prevent children from entering foster care have been beneficial to family preservation. The percentage of children remaining in families and avoiding foster care placement has been over 97% since FY 2015 and the expectation is that this performance will remain stable.
Objective 3.3 - Increase the percentage of foster care youth achieving permanency for those whose plan is reunification, guardianship, and adoption.
Trend and Analysis
 The agency focuses attention on reviewing and analyzing the number of children placed in foster care because it is considered a temporary and short term option for children.  Over the past several years, the agency has significantly reduced the number of children in out of home placement through close monitoring, enabling the placement of children in permanent family arrangements.  
Following a state-wide and national trend, the agency has experienced an 8% increase in the foster care population over the past year, and this shift affects the agency’s ability to meet the primary goal of youth permanency in the form of reunification, guardianship or adoption.  In FY 2016 the agency met adoption and guardianship goals which positively contributed to the 32% rate for achieving permanency.  In FY 2017, the remaining children and the family situations presented challenges requiring DSS involvement; in these cases, reunification, adoption or guardianship were not options at the time.  This resulted in a decrease in the permanency rate to 21.9%.  Based on current trends, the agency expects to meet and potentially exceed the target of 33.0% in FY 2018.

FY 2018 Key Accomplishments

  • Expanded the placement of DSS Community Resource Advocates (CRA) to 40 schools located in TNI neighborhoods.  Using strategic plans, TNI@School  serves over 2,000 individuals.
  • Established Child Protective Services/Prince George’s County School investigative unit to reduce the time needed to complete school CPS investigations within 30 days and lessen administrative leave for school personnel.  The average time to complete an investigation decreased from 60 to 38 days.
  • Continued work to earn its Seal of Recognition as a “Leader in Supporting and Serving LGBT Youth and Families” through All Children – All Families (ACAF) to demonstrate service improvements to improve the ability of staff, caregivers and providers to promote safe and supportive environments for LGBTQ youth in foster care. 
  • Led the County initiative to create Child Care Safety Awareness Campaign in response to recent tragedies.  The campaign created awareness and education on how to choose someone to care for children and included outreach events, bus wraps, rack cards and magnets, and a social media campaign (Facebook, Instagram, SNAPchat, and Twitter: #PGCSafeKids). 
  • Served as Maryland Health Exchange entity and saw a growth of 31,190 enrollees (27,811 in Medicaid and 3,379 in Qualified Health Plans (QHP).  There are approximately 175,000 residents enrolled in in Medicaid and over 25,000 residents in QHP.   
  • Linked Oxon Hill residents to housing stabilization, emergency assistance and job fair services through The Community Solutions Center.  Since January 2017, DSS has connected 39% of residents with services.
Source: FY 2019 Proposed Budget, Prince George's County, MD