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New Social Services App Makes Reporting Information Easier for Citizens

By Chasity Locke

Post Date:10/04/2016

Social Services AppThe Challenge

Durham County has an estimated population of 290,874 and on a monthly average, 6000 clients come into the agency’s lobbies seeking to apply, recertify or make changes to their status in the Food and Nutrition, Medicaid or Work First Programs. In an effort to save citizen’s time and money, the Department of Social Services has allowed residents to submit documents required when applying or recertifying for public assistance programs or when they want to change information, all by a mobile app.

Durham County DSS Staff Cindy Walters and Thomas Williams checking out the new mobile app

The Solution

“The DSS mobile app, known as DSS-MAP, is a first for the state, and a major accomplishment for our agency,” states Michael Becketts, Director of Durham Social Services. The mobile app will allow citizens to submit information about their application, redetermination or make a change to their Food & Nutrition services, Medicaid or Work First benefits from the comfort of their PC or mobile device. DSS-MAP is available free of charge on Google Play and is coming soon to Apple’s iTunes store. It can be found by searching for ‘Durham County Social Services.’ Clients can also obtain access by visiting the website on their mobile devices, laptops or desktop computers. As a secured application it will prompt users to input specific identifying information in order to utilize the service. It will provide all clients the ability to upload a file or image and enter information as needed regarding their specific case. As a result, the user will receive a receipt via email with an estimated turnaround time.

Youth Work summer intern Sterling Mason helped to create DSS-MAP during his sophomore year at North Carolina A&T University, under the supervision of Mickey Mazarick, senior applications analyst. “Now Sterling is at a junior programmer lever, after having been interning in our department for a few summers”, said Mazarick. The YouthWork summer program allows Durham youth the opportunity to gain meaningful work experience with City and County jobs.

Expected Goals

It is the County’s goal, that this application will help clients provide information quicker and receive their desired results sooner. The new mobile app is expected to offer expanded services in the future, helping to simplify forms processing in more DSS departments. As well as create a positive experience for the client of DSS, leverage technology that clients have at their fingertips, improve the productivity of DSS staff and provide greater efficiency in managing time and resources of the agency. “Not only has the County provided a much needed, easy-to-use service to our clients with our new mobile app, the County is also helping to launch a tech career for our citizens,” states Becketts. An average-size state agency could save up to $14 million annually by relying on mobile apps instead of in-person interactions, according to a study by Accenture.

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