The Dane County Department of Human Services is scheduled to relocate to Madison next year.
DHS director Shawn Tessmann confirmed the relocation in an email to the Hub, stating the move will happen in the spring or summer of 2020. The office is one of two physical locations the county has in Stoughton, including the Joining Forces for Families (JFF) office on Main Street.
The move is designed to help staff be “effective and to the Job Center on Aberg Avenue in Madison,” Tessman wrote, explaining that it is a result of changes in how services are delivered for economic support and child welfare.
Economic support services were regionalized about eight years ago, he said, which shifted how the office functions at the Stoughton location. The office transitioned into a call center, part of an eight-county consortia.
“Staff answering the phone in Stoughton could be helping a customer who resides in any one of these counties,” he said. “Similarly, any calls from Stoughton families could be answered by an agent physically located in any of those counties.”
Tessmann said nine staff members work with child welfare related issues, and “very few” Stoughton area families are getting those services out of this location.
“It is more frequently the case that child welfare staff are traveling to other parts of the county to assist the kids and families who might benefit from child welfare services,” he said. “From the standpoint of an efficient use of resources, it makes better use of county dollars to physically relocate staff closer to the families in need.”
Stoughton area families who need help with housing, food or locating other resources to prevent hardship to their children or themselves can seek referrals through the JFF office on a regular basis. It’s also a location in which social workers can station themselves, as needed for Stoughton child welfare and community client services.
“The staff have been notified of this change, and the department will support this transition as best as we can,” Tessmann said. “There are no other municipalities in the county that have economic support staff housed locally in the way they have been in Stoughton.”