Department of Social Services Director

Sampson County
April 6, 2022
406 County Complex Road, Clinton, NC
Billing Address
510 Meadowmont Village Circle #299 Chapel Hill NC 27517
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Department of Social Services (DSS) Director


Sampson County is seeking a passionate advocate, an innovative, and mission-driven leader to be their next Department of Social Services (DSS) Director. The ideal Social Services Director is a strong, and motivated leader with the creativity and skills to effectively lead the department during a turbulent time nationally. Coming on the heels of a global pandemic, the next DSS Director has the opportunity to lead the Sampson County DSS through establishing a supportive, encouraging workplace culture that embraces growth while improving high staff turnover, enhancing staff training and development, and navigating changes within state mandates for social service program eligibility. The successful leader has a track record of partnering and collaborating with staff, community, state and federal stakeholders, the Social Services Board, County Management, and County Commissioners to carry out the mission of the department, “to enhance the quality of life for residents by promoting self-sufficiency, preventing maltreatment and providing supportive services.”


The Community:

Established in 1784, Sampson County, with Clinton as the County Seat, is the largest North Carolina County in land mass. Sampson County stretches sixty miles long and thirty-five miles wide. At 963 square miles, the county is just about the size of the State of Rhode Island. Tucked into the southeast corner of the State known as the coastal plains, our picturesque county boasts gently rolling hills, rich farmland and friendly, bustling communities. The climate is temperate, without winter and summer extremes, so it’s perfectly suited to a relaxed lifestyle where people can enjoy outdoor activities year-round.


Located between the beautiful beaches of the east coast and the majestic Appalachian Mountains of the west, Sampson County is but an hour’s drive from the state capital of Raleigh. Served by Interstate 40 east and west, and Interstate 95 north and south, Sampson County has an ideal transportation network to large metropolitan markets without all of the congestion. Locally, there is a broad range of cultural and recreational activities ranging from performing arts and libraries to the best golf, hunting and fishing to be found. The County is also within proximity to world-class research universities, two international airports, two deep-water ports and some of the most pristine sandy beaches in the United States.


Economically, Sampson County is one of the State’s most diverse agricultural counties and often, the leading producer of many of the State’s commodities. Nearly 65,000 people reside in Sampson County and its eight incorporated municipalities of Autryville, Clinton, Garland, Harrells, Newton Grove, Roseboro, Salemburg and Turkey. Today, industries have realized that Sampson County enjoys not only a seasonal climate conducive to agricultural growth but also a progressive business climate that encourages diverse industrial growth as well. Traditional values and a strong work ethic ensure businesses have a large, stable, and productive work force. Sampson County Schools, the community college system, and targeted employment and training programs, guarantee workers are well trained.


About the Organization, Department and Position:

Sampson County has an overall FY21-22 general fund budget of approximately $163 million.  The County has 26 departments employing 553 FTE.  The County maintains A1 (Moody) and A ratings (Standard and Poor) and has been issued a GFOA award winning budget for the last eight years.  


As of April 2018, the Sampson County Board of Commissioners assumed direct control of the Sampson County Board of Social Services, as authorized by NCGS 153A-76 and 153A-77. The Commissioners elected to appoint an Advisory Committee to the Sampson County Department of Social Services comprised of 5 members. With the exception of the Director, DSS employees operate as County employees subject to the State Human Resources Act.


While the Board of Commissioners exercises those powers and functions required to be exercised by the Board pursuant to the North Carolina General Statutes or the North Carolina Administrative Code, the Advisory Committee is tasked with providing information and advice to the commissioners on social conditions and needs in the community, regardless of whether the Board of Commissioners must take ultimate action with respect to a particular matter. The goal of the Advisory Committee is to ensure the effectiveness, efficiency, fairness, and excellence in the public social services system.


The DSS Director works with the Social Services Advisory Board and reports directly to the County Manager’s Office acting on behalf of the Board of Commissioners. The Director serves as a member of the County Leadership Team, which consists of the County’s Department Heads.  The DSS Director is responsible for administering state and federal social services programs and serves as the executive officer of the County Board of Social Services executing the authority of the Board as defined in GS 108A-14.  


Sampson County DSS has a budget of $12.8M budget and 150 employees serving across 3 divisions programs: Adult, Child, and Family Services, Child Support, and Economic Programs and Services.  Learn more about specific programs by visiting


The next DSS Director will be a passionate advocate for citizen access to outstanding social services and the ongoing development of a climate of excellence, collaboration, and innovation in which staff grow and thrive in delivering outstanding customer service.   A track record of interdepartmental collaboration to enhance service delivery, systematic monitoring of state performance standards, particularly around Medicaid to avoid penalties, and actionable career development and succession planning to ensure continuity of services is essential.

Economically and age diverse, the County has an overall poverty level of 20% with about 55% reduced school lunch participants and 18% of residents over the age of 65 compared with a rate of nearly 24% for those under the age of 18.  DSS programs must find ways to creatively meet the needs of its citizens with high unemployment, high rate of child poverty and increasing needs of older persons.  The effective DSS Director will carry out several key priorities including finalizing and implementing the strategic plan and community vision, leveraging partnerships with local and regional partners, and proactively seeking and supporting economic development opportunities.


Key Position Priorities:

  • Respond realistically, proactively, and creatively to the impacts of COVID-19 on effective service delivery to Sampson County citizens, employees, and visitors.
  • Work in collaboration with County Leadership to improve staff recruitment and retention to include evaluation of remote and virtual service delivery which are popular with staff and applicants.
  • Ensure staff development and engagement initiatives that support employees to have a renewed passion for mission critical services, meet high community expectations for service, prepare employees for cross-team collaborations, and offer technical and leadership skills training to ensure effective career development and succession planning.
  • Proactively communicate and engage with diversity stakeholders including citizens, staff, non-portfolio department directors, Board of Commissioners, Sampson County Schools, Sampson Technical Community College, regional municipal partners, community, and faith organizations.


Salary and Benefits: Salary and Benefits: Expected hiring range begins at $87,456 depending on qualifications. The County provides a generous benefits package, including leave options, health care benefits, retirement benefits, and a 401-K plan, in addition to their salary plan.  Residency within the County is required within a negotiated timeline.


Qualifications:  The successful candidate should possess a Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW) and two years of supervisory experience in the delivery of client services; or a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work and three years of supervisory experience in the delivery of client services, one of which must have been in Social Services; or graduation from a four year college or university and three years of supervisory experience in the delivery of client services, two of which must have been in Social Services; or an equivalent combination of training and experience. Applicants must have an extensive knowledge of management principles applicable to the operation of a human service delivery system. Applicants must also have an understanding of the organizational structure of a department of social services and applicable county policy as well as state and federal laws, rules, and regulations.


The successful candidate:

  • assertively advocates for the needs of Sampson County clients, community members, and employees with key stakeholders and decision-makers who influence policy, laws, and funding;
  • is accountable by creating and applying performance metrics that objectively measure department performance against mission critical goals;
  • advocates for and explains services of the agency to regulatory bodies and programmatic partners;
  • is adept at ensuring the marketing and communication of programs to eligible citizens through various means;
  • has a track record of breaking down silos and barriers while building bridges and paths to solutions in partnership with others;
  • is experienced in developing, managing and coordinating a budget that consists of funds from multiple sources; as well as a good understanding of the County’s budget and available financial resources;
  • is able to enhance and build on a culture of excellent customer service to DSS program customers;
  • is knowledgeable about the legal and philosophical basis for public assistance programs along with a theoretical knowledge base of the field of social work;
  • networks with peers in neighboring communities and throughout the state;
  • is a creative thinker in assessing ways to meet program needs within staffing and budgetary constraints;
  • is an excellent communicator both verbally and in writing and possesses well-developed interpersonal skills and abilities; and,
  • is an accountable manager who holds high expectations of self and others while also being an effective and respected leader.

Special Requirements



To confidentially apply, please visit, and click on the DSS Director – Sampson County title.  To learn more about the selection process, visit, select “Client Openings and scroll down to “Important Information for Applicants.” All applications must be submitted online via the Developmental Associates application portal – NOT the County Application portal, nor any other external website; it is not sufficient to send only a resume. Resumes and cover letters as well as unofficial transcripts must be uploaded with the application. Application review begins May 4th, 2022. Successful semi-finalists will be invited to participate in virtual interviews and skill evaluation on June 13th and 14th, 2022. Candidates are encouraged to reserve these dates for virtual meetings should they be invited to participate. Sampson County is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


The recruitment and selection process are being managed by Developmental Associates, LLC