New director of social services makes mental health and addiction a top priority | New

BEAUFORT – The new director of the Carteret County Social Services Department, Jessica Adams, plans to tackle mental health and addiction issues.

“The mental health and addiction crisis affects many aspects of our work. I believe it is imperative to find new ways of working with our community partners to address these issues, ”she said in an email interview on May 14.

“I imagine DSS will work with our community partners to find new and improved ways to solve difficult social issues to improve the safety and well-being of the citizens we serve,” she continued.

Ms Adams, former director of the Jones County DSS, began her new role on May 10. She replaces former manager Clint Lewis, who retired on March 31.

Since starting her new job, Ms Adams said she has been on a steep learning curve to study what is already being done in the county.

“I spend the first few weeks of my job trying to understand,” she says. “I get to know the employees, stakeholders and other department heads. I meet with agency management and review performance metrics, budget and other relevant information to understand where we are and how the agency is operating. I also learn county specific processes and methods of conducting county business. “

Ms Adams said she enjoyed meeting the new staff and getting to know the community.

“From what I’ve seen so far, the staff at DSS do a good job of meeting the needs of our customers,” she said.

When it comes to the high turnover rate at DSS, both within the county and nationally, Adams admitted that she doesn’t have an easy answer.

“The nature of the work is often difficult and has an emotional impact on employees,” she said. “While I don’t have all of the answers, I believe there are things we can do to improve retention, like address secondary employee trauma, actively work to improve morale during tough times, and continue to provide good leadership. . “

Ms. Adams has been a veteran of the social service system for 14 years and has worked for Duplin, Lenoir and Jones counties. Her previous positions have been as Legal Assistant, Social Worker, Social Work Supervisor, Social Work Program Manager, Acting Director and Director of MAS.

She received her BA in Sociology from the University of East Carolina and is a graduate of the Federal Local Government Credit Union Fellows from the UNC-School of Government.

She and her husband Eric have two daughters aged 11 and 7 and a son aged 4.

For now, Ms Adams is commuting from her home in Duplin County as she and her husband search for a home in Carteret County.

“We are actively working with a local real estate agent to find a new home here in Carteret County,” she said. “All three children will be enrolled in schools in Carteret County this fall, which we look forward to.”

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; send an email to [email protected]; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.


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Rhonda Lee

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