This is in response to a letter from Fairfield County Council several weeks ago. The letter referenced the closure of the SC Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) offices in Fairfield County. The letter was based on info released to local papers before notice was ever given to those of us in the legislature. This info was also released on a weekend to the papers and stated that 17 offices of DEW would be relocated to other counties.
In Fairfield County’s case, the office would be moved to a Taylor Street location in Columbia, and in Chester; the office would move to Rock Hill. On the Tuesday following the announcement; DEW staff members came for a briefing for House/Senate Members. I attended that meeting. It was noted that 17 offices were being closed and it was clear that they were all rural and most of them in high levels of poverty and high levels of unemployment. Needless to say, there was some heat that generated from that meeting.
On that particular day, I initiated more conversation and concern over the closure and later visited our local SC Works office to get more info. After gathering a lot of info and then engaging in conversation with staff members of DEW; a request was made for reconsideration. The request was for DEW to consider county-sharing. This brought about the consideration and implementation for DEW to have a staff member in Winnsboro and Chester on Wednesdays each week. This will accommodate those individuals who have transportation problems, those who do not have computers, and will extend access to a “warm body” to help them. I think this is a reasonable compromise.
Let me encourage those enrolled in these services to utilize them. In times when dollars are in short supply and the “outcry” is to reduce government; there will be the need to compromise and negotiate so that there can be “Win-Win” situations. I see this as a workable solution.
This reduced level of service does not change the status of the local SC Works office. DEW is one of many partners in the SC Works system.
I hope this brings some clarity to this issue. I would like to say again that it is an honor to serve District 41.
Rep. MaryGail Douglas
House District 41