Valley Woman says DSS Not Protecting Local Needs

By: McKinsey Harris Email
By: McKinsey Harris Email

One Valley woman says enough is enough and she took her frustration to the Rockingham Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday night.

Lee Van Orden claims the Department of Social Services is not protecting the needs of local children.

She is the founder and CEO of Kaleidoscope Family and Child Services, and the Department of Social Services is taking her suggestions seriously.

With 14 points and nine pages of notes, Van Orden says her biggest concern is keeping children local and using services in the local community, which she says the Harrisonburg-Rockingham DSS isn't doing.

"Our children are supposed to be wrapped around here in our community with services. We have so many qualified professionals right here in Harrisonburg that can meet the needs of these kids. They don't have to be sent away to have their needs met," says Van Orden.

DSS Director Donald Driver also attended the meeting and says keeping children local has been a main goal over the past two years.

"We've increased the prevention services, we have a lot more of activities and funding going in to helping families stay together, children stay in their homes so they don't come into care at all," says Driver.

However, Driver says not every child's needs can be met locally because of the smaller size of the community, so some must receive treatment elsewhere.

"Always, when they do need that, and they need treatment programs to move as quickly as we can to get them into treatment and then get them back into a foster care situation or back into their own home," says Driver.

Van Orden says there's a whole slew of services available for children, just not enough here.

"To see professionals come to the table who have a vested interest in our children, for our community's children," says Van Orden.

Driver says he took pages of notes at the meeting and will be taking the time to take a critical look at the comments.

"When somebody brings their concerns, we honestly want to take a look at them very seriously and say, 'What can we learn? And how can we do business better?' And that will be our goal with the things that have been cited this evening," says Driver.

Van Orden says another problem is the recruitment and retention of foster families. She feels DSS can do a better job to increase the number of homes available for children here in the community.

Driver says DSS is always in need of foster families. He also says having a variety of families is great because children can then be placed with a family best suited to the child's needs.


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