FRONT ROYAL — The Warren County Department of Social Services saw an increased workload during fiscal year 2020.

During that fiscal year, which spans from July 2019-July 2020, the child-related situations with which department was involved in included 28 investigations and 163 assessments, Social Services Director John Martz explained during Town Council's Monday meeting. Assessments involve helping a family through a situation. Investigations are more severe and conducted after a report is made.

The following fiscal year, from July 2020-July 2021, Martz said his department had 51 investigations and 196 assessments.

Asked by Vice Mayor Lori Cockrell on what he thinks is responsible for the increase, Martz said "2020 was tough on everybody."

In 2020, there were 228 adult services reports in town compared to 209 in 2019.

The poverty rate among area families with children is about 13% compared to a 8-9% adult poverty rate, Martz said.

Martz said there are no local foster families available — one foster child went to a Richmond family — and the department is working to recruit them. Martz said the goal is to keep families together so the "true work" can be done, but sometimes that is not possible.

Becoming a foster family, Martz said, is a difficult process that could take about a year and requires a lot of commitment. Anyone is interested in becoming can contact 540-635-3430.

The department, which has 43 employees, provides benefit programs. In Warren County, 3,194 people receive the Supplemental, Assistance and Nutrition Program, or SNAP; 7,784 receive Medicaid; 72 receive Child Care Assistance; and 140 receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF. Martz said the department's programs' economic impact was about $62.1 million in fiscal year 2019, Martz said. The county contributed about $1.4 million to the department.

“We like to give you a high return on investment,” Martz said.

Contact Charles Paullin at cpaullin@nvdaily.com