Frequently Asked Questions – Social Services

If you have questions about our office or the services provided, you may find the answers here. If your answer is not found here, feel free to email this office at, call this office at 336-372-2411, or drop by our office at 182 Doctors Street, Sparta, NC.

FAQ Categories

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Are Social Services and Social Security the same agency?

  • No. Social Services is a county agency administering income maintenance, Medicaid and social work programs. Social Security is a federal agency administering disability, SSI and Medicare benefits. The local Social Security office is in Wilkesboro, NC. Their toll-free number is 1-877-880-8506.

Are Medicare and Medicaid the same program?

  • No. Medicare is a health insurance program for all citizens over age 65 without regard to income. Medicaid is a health insurance program for low income children and adults.

Does DSS help with rent/housing?

  • No. Housing assistance is handled through HUD (336-372-5256).

Where can I get help with food?

  • Solid Rock Ministries is the local food closet. They can be reached at 336-372-6560. The Department of Social Services administers the Food Stamp Program. You can apply at DSS for the Food Stamp Program.

Where can I get help to pay my heating or cooling bills?

  • DSS offers a Crisis Intervention Program and the Low Income Energy Assistance Program to help with heating and cooling crises. Contact DSS at 336-372-2411 for more information. Additional resources include Solid Rock Ministries (336-372-5959) administered through Alleghany Cares.

Where do I get help paying for medication?

  • DSS offers medical assistance through the Medicaid program. For those not eligible for Medicaid, a Mobile Pharmacy comes to the county on a regular basis. Call Alleghany Cares at 336-372-5959 for information.

Where do I go to talk to someone about Social Security and Medicare?

  • The Social Security Administration sends a representative to the Alleghany County Council on Aging on the second Thursday of each month. They can be reached by phone at 336-667-8507 or 1-800-772-1213.

Where do I apply for work permits?

How old must you be to have a workers permit?

  • Anyone under the age of 18 must have a workers permit.

If you live in one county and work in another who issues the work permit?

  • The county that you will be working in has to issue the work permit.

Where do I get help with clothing or household goods?

  • Alleghany Cares (336-372-5959) and Cora’s Charities (336-372-6545) offer help in these areas.

Is there help available for the blind?

  • The Social Worker for the Blind has office hours at DSS on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. The worker can be reached at 336-372-1445 or 336-651-7490.

Who helps elderly people in their homes with housekeeping and personal care?

  • The Alleghany County Council on Aging (336-372-4640) and Alleghany Health Department (336-372-5641) provide programs that assist elderly residents in their homes. Contact either of these agencies or DSS for information and eligibility questions.

Is there an adult day care program to help care for an elderly person while the family works or to provide a respite for caregivers?

  • Currently there is no adult day care in Alleghany County.

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How do I apply for Medicaid or North Carolina Health Choice for my children?

  • You can come to your local DSS or DSS can mail an application to you to complete and return to DSS. Applications can also be picked up at the local Alleghany Health Department. Applications are also available online at

How long will it take me to get Medicaid, North Carolina Health Choice, or Work First after I have applied if I am eligible?

  • Caseworkers have 45 days to determine eligibility for most Medicaid programs; this includes North Carolina Health Choice. Medicaid for the disabled processing time is 90 days.

Who is eligible for North Carolina Health Choice?

  • NCHC is for children under 19 only. These children must not be covered by any comprehensive health insurance and must meet current income guidelines.

When will I receive my food stamp benefits if I am eligible?

  • Normal processing time for caseworkers is 30 days. If caseworker determines application is emergency, it will be processed within 7 days.

How do you determine the day my food stamp benefits are available?

  • The last digit of your Social Security number determines it.

When can I apply for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program?

  • The local DSS takes these applications during the first two weeks in November. Please contact your local DSS.

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How do I apply for Social Security Disability or SSI?

  • Contact your local Social Security office in Wilkesboro, NC. Their toll-free number is 1-877-880-8506.

How do I report a child being mistreated?

  • If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected you must contact the Department of Social Services. This can be done by calling or visiting the office during normal working hours or, in the case of an emergency, by calling 911 on nights, weekends or holidays.

How can I become a foster parent?

  • Contact the foster home licensing worker at DSS by calling or coming by the agency. The worker will explain the licensing process and give the family a copy of the Foster Home Licensing Handbook. This handbook explains the licensing process including the requirements and procedure for licensing.

What do I need to do if I want to adopt a child?

  • Contact DSS to schedule an office visit with the adoption worker who will explain the process and give the family the Adoption Handbook with information on the Adoption process.

How do I get custody of my children?

  • DSS does not determine custody issues. Custody is ONLY awarded through the court system. You must contact an attorney for custody issues.

What age can children be left home alone?

  • The laws of North Carolina do not specify an age that it is “legal” to leave a child home alone. The decision should be based on many factors. For information and advice, contact DSS.

Does DSS have car seats to give away?

  • No. Car seats can be obtained at the Alleghany County Health Department.

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How do I report abuse or neglect of an elderly person?

  • Reports can be made to DSS during working hours, or in the case of an emergency on nights or weekends through 911.

Who do I call for help with transportation?

How can I get home delivered meals?

  • Alleghany County Council on Aging provides a nutrition program on site as well as home delivered meals. For either of these programs contact the Council on Aging (336-372-4640).

How do I get Power of Attorney or Guardianship of an elderly relative?

  • For the appropriate forms for these issues you must contact the Clerk of Superior Court (336-372-8949). You may contact DSS for information and you should consult an attorney.

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Can I receive child support if the father of my children is living in another state?

  • Yes, the current situation will be assessed and the case will be worked accordingly.

Does the father of my children have the right to see our children if he pays child support?

  • The father does have the right to see his children, however child support and child custody/visitation are two separate issues and the father will have to address visitation on his own.

From the time that I apply for child support, how long will it be before I start receiving?

  • The time varies and it depends on your current situation and if paternity has been established.

What can be done if paternity is an issue?

  • A DNA test will be done on the mother, child, and alleged father.

How do you determine the amount of child support I will be receiving?

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Is there a program to help families pay for child care? If so how do I apply?

  • The Child Care Subsidy Program is an assistance program to help low income families with child care costs. Eligibility is based on need and income. Contact DSS to apply for this service.

What do I need to do to become a licensed child care provider?

Who are the child care providers in Alleghany County?

  • DSS maintains a current list of child care providers that accept subsidy payments. The Alleghany County Partnership for Children can provide a list of all licensed child care providers in the county including the provider’s star rating (quality of care rating).

Who do I call to make a complaint about a day care?

Are there child care providers who provide night and weekend care?

  • Second and third shift care is provided by a limited number of child care providers. Weekend care is currently not available. Contact the Alleghany County Partnership for Children (336-372-2846) to inquire about hours of individual child care provider.
Stacey Presnell
Director of Social Services
182 Doctors St.
PO Box 247
Sparta, NC 28675
Phone: 336-372-2411
Fax: 336-372-2635
Department Links:
State Employment Application (pdf)
PD 107 (pdf)

In order to be considered for employment at Alleghany DSS a PD 107 is required, no other application forms will be accepted for consideration.