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New director named for local social services office

Monday, April 29, 2013

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

A longtime Henry-Martinsville Social Services employee is the agency’s new director.

Tanya Verlik, who had been the assistant director for five years, was promoted to head of the agency effective last week, she confirmed Friday.

Verlik has worked for the agency for almost 16 years. She was hired soon after she graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in human services and has spent her entire professional career there, she said.

Before she became assistant director, Verlik was a social work supervisor in the child welfare unit. She was a social worker in the child protective services unit prior to that, she said.

Verlik succeeds director Amy Tuttle, who retired effective March 1 after heading the agency for five years.

Verlik said she enjoys working at the agency mainly because of its employees’ dedication to their jobs.

“Our staff goes above and beyond (the call of duty) every day” to help clients amid large caseloads, Verlik said, adding that she could not have a better staff.

Over the past few years, the agency’s staff has dropped from 99 to 90 employees as people left and were not replaced due to budget constraints.

The Virginia Department of Social Services has said that agencies with caseloads the size of the Henry-Martinsville agency should have more than 100 employees, according to officials.

In March, statistics show, 13,410 county-city households comprising 15,994 residents were on Medicaid while 8,347 households comprising 16,933 people were in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Based on census figures, the statistics show that almost 46 percent of the community’s households comprising nearly 24 percent of residents were on Medicaid in March. About 29 percent of the community’s households and 25 percent of residents received SNAP benefits.

Medicaid and SNAP — what used to be known as the food stamp program — are the most-used benefits provided through social services.

For many months, social services’ public assistance caseloads rose steadily due to local economic troubles, such as job losses.

The rising caseloads seem to have leveled off.

Caseloads are “not increasing as rapidly as they were at one point,” Verlik said. “We’re still seeing new faces everyday, though.”

Verlik said, however, that many local families remain in dire need of basic necessities.

She said the state and her agency are encouraging people to go online at https://commonhelp.virginia.gov/access to apply for public assistance benefits and/or see whether they qualify for aid.

They can do so “much more easily and quickly” than they can by visiting social services in person, Verlik said.

She indicated that she is planning no major changes to the agency’s daily operations.

A new assistant director has not yet been named, Verlik said.

Agency board members could not be reached for comment.

 

 
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