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Onondaga County creates two new departments, shrinks another

Onondaga County is making massive changes to the part of its bureaucracy that helps families and individuals in need. The recently passed county budget reshuffles the traditional way residents have been getting services for years.

In January, 600 county employees will move to new floors and offices in an attempt to streamline the county's social services departments. County Chief Fiscal Officer Steve Morgan says two new departments, the Department of Adult Long Term Care Services and the Department of Children and Family Services will be created, other departments will disappear, and the Department of Social Services will shrink.

"The traditional Department of Social Services is what I call the public benefit programs," Morgan said. "It's your Medicaid, its your food stamps, it's your temporary assistance. The casework programs, both the adult and child, are being pulled out and put in those new departments."

Morgan says the new Adult Long Term Care Services and Children and Family Services Departments will bring everyone who works with a particular population into the same office.

"This is looking to bring adult services together, the children and family services together," Morgan said. "And really coordinating our efforts to approach and utilize our resources together to hopefully have better outcomes for these families and adults."

There won't be layoffs or raises, and the changes are meant to be cost neutral. Morgan says the biggest job may be yet to come, with the county fine tuning the new structure once it's in place.  

"I'm sure there will be opportunities and situations, where you know what, that's not the best way to do this," Morgan said. We're going to retool how we are going to deal with this situation, and someone may have a different responsibility at this point."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.