DSS Liaisons Making a Difference: Training Our Partners

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — September 24, 2021 — 4 min read

When systems are well informed, they work better. However, many agencies within the child welfare system are swamped. Helping families in crisis is their priority, so continued education isn't always possible.

That’s where our liaisons come in. One of their biggest priorities is educating and informing our system partners, like the Department of Social Services (DSS).

In August, DSS liaison Narissa Huntley completed training with Orange and Alamance counties’ DSS teams. Each session centered on getting families connected to the services they need. In this DSS highlight, we focus on her work with Alamance County’s Adult Protective Services (APS).

Help Is Available (But Not Everyone Knows It)

Many families don’t know they have options when caring for their loved ones. Narissa and her fellow DSS liaisons are working to fix that.

Narissa sat down with Alamance’s APS team to discuss services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD). Specifically, she talked with APS about the Innovations and (b)(3) services.

Referring More Families to the NC Innovations Waiver

The NC Innovations Waiver is a program that helps people with IDD through long-term services and supports. However, not all Alamance’s APS staff knew it existed.

“I talked APS through the Innovations services, what they entail, and what the Waiver is,” Narissa said. She also showed the team how to complete the NC Innovations Waiver referral form for those who may be eligible.

The referral process is the beginning of a long journey—many families wait years for the NC General Assembly to approve additional Waiver slots. So, the earlier someone is referred, the sooner they can begin receiving the Waiver’s life-changing IDD services. Time is of the essence.
Information & Resources

Learn more about the NC Innovations Waiver.

Services While You Wait for the Waiver

(b)(3) services are like Innovations services in two ways: 1) they support those with IDD and 2) not many people know they’re available. Unlike Innovations services, (b)(3) supports can be accessed without the Waiver. That’s why Narissa’s training with Alamance emphasized (b)(3) services.

“When a member comes into DSS custody, sometimes they simply need resources in the home. (b)(3) Respite is a big one, especially for older caregivers,” Narissa said. (b)(3) Respite is a service that allows caregivers to take a break from round-the-clock caregiving.

Other (b)(3) services help members with IDD:
  • Find and keep a job they like
  • Get more involved in their community
  • Transition to living independently
Narissa walked APS through the (b)(3) service definitions, how members can access those services, and which providers offer them. She also gave the team a resource guide with a list of (b)(3) service providers. The guide will make it easier for APS to connect families to IDD services more quickly.

Why These Trainings Matter

The DSS Liaison Program was created for trainings like these.

“All of the social workers involved shared that this training was useful—that they didn’t have prior knowledge of IDD services, the Waiver, and (b)(3) services,” Narissa said.

As Narissa mentioned, many families get involved with DSS because they need more support. Without help, it’s common to feel overwhelmed when caring for someone with IDD.

But these families aren’t in it alone. They just don’t know that help is out there.

With Narissa’s training, Alamance’s APS team has more options when dealing with a case. They can more frequently connect families to the help—and healing—they need to thrive. This could lead to fewer people entering institutional care.

Of course, IDD services aren’t the answer in every case. But awareness of them makes our systems better. More knowledge means more families can get the help they need before DSS takes over custody.
Information & Resources

Learn more about our Child Program.

What’s Next: Future Trainings for CPS and Young Adult Members


In September, Narissa will provide the same training to the Child Protective Services (CPS) team. She will also begin training with young adult members who were involved in foster care. This training, in partnership with the LINKS program, will help young members learn how to take charge of their health care as they transition to adulthood.
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