County appoints new director of local social services

The Guilford County Department of Social Services has just had a new director, but the new head of the department – Sharon Barlow – is no stranger to Guilford County government.

Barlow will take over the position that was suddenly vacated by former director of social services Heather Skeens, who quit just before Halloween last year.

Skeens was also director of the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services, but Barlow will not assume Skeen’s role in the public health department.

The county’s announcement was optimistically captioned “Preserved institutional knowledge ensures smooth transition of leadership,” and, in this case, that sounds accurate. Even when Skeens headed the department, Barlow often reported to the Board of Commissioners on social services matters, and she has served as Acting Director of Social Services since Skeens’ surprise resignation.

Barlow, who has worked for the Guilford County DSS for a dozen years, began his career in social services at the Caldwell County DSS in western North Carolina, where Lenoir is the county seat. . There, she worked in child protective services as a social worker and later as a supervisor.

She now has nearly three and a half decades of experience in social services.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve my community,” Barlow said in the Tuesday, January 25, press release. “I am very proud of the work we do and continue to be amazed by our staff’s commitment to providing excellent service to the citizens of Guilford County. Long-term sustainable change requires that we take advantage of innovative opportunities and creative practices to deliver quality services and maintain a quality employee experience. I am determined to work hard to make this happen.

Barlow was born and raised in Greensboro. She and her husband are members of First Baptist Church of Greensboro and they have two children who are both currently enrolled at Appalachian State University.

Barlow brings “strong leadership skills, a focus on staff engagement and an emphasis on community collaboration that make her uniquely qualified to take on this new role,” the county’s announcement said.

According to the county’s job description, she is responsible for “implementing service integration, reducing county costs, and increasing state and federal revenues as well as improving technology systems” and Barlow should also “maintain and enhance relationships with community organizations and achieve visionary goals through collaborative processes.

The department is difficult to manage. It deals with difficult and volatile issues every day, has a large number of employees, and about a decade ago was at the center of a scandal so huge it could have cut off the entire state of Carolina. northern federal food aid.

The county conducted a search and Barlow “quickly rose to the top of the list,” according to the county’s statement.

Guilford County Deputy Superintendent Victor Isler, who was hired late last year in the role, said in the press release, “The maintenance committee has been very impressed with the commitment of Sharon towards the agency and her extensive knowledge of economic services and children’s services with her. global vision around the DSS care of the whole person.

He said he sees Barlow as key to Guilford County’s strategic vision of working collaboratively with its community partners.

Barlow attended Appalachian State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in social work, of course. She says she was drawn to social work after her parents were foster parents for the Children’s Home Society of North Carolina for 15 years and cared for more than 50 children.

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