Ice Storm Warning

An Ice Storm Warning is in effect for New Hanover County.

County offices and facilities are closed Friday, January 21 and Saturday, January 22, as the forecast calls for freezing rain, hazardous road conditions & potential power outages.

Visit for more information and the latest from the National Weather Service.


First, we talk about why the person feels that their parent needs to go to a nursing home. Does the mother have the capacity to make decisions for herself?  We then talk about the placement process and refer them to the customer service unit to obtain a placement packet.

For more information call (910) 798-3719

Smart Start of New Hanover County (SSNHC) can provide you with information on how to select quality child care.  They can also put you in touch with the regional resource who can give you a list of potential child care sites that meet your specific needs.  SSNHC can be reached at 815-3731 or by visiting 3534 So. College Rd., Suite F, Wilmington, NC 28412

You can call New Hanover County Department of Social Services at (910) 798-3500 to make an appointment to come in and complete an application.​

Stop by Smart Start of New Hanover County (3534 So. College Rd., Suite F, Wilmington, NC 28412) to pick up a free child care licensing packet for potential family child care providers. Smart Start of New Hanover County can also provide you with general information if you are interested in starting a child care center.​

It depends on the number in the household. For example for a family of 2, the maximum gross monthly income is $2,655.00. For a family of 3, it is $3,348.00. For a family of 4, it is $4,042.00. Please call 798-3500 if you would like more information.​

Contact or visit Smart Start of New Hanover County for free and confidential information and referrals about young children. ​(910) 815-3731

Providers who are already in our system will receive their checks around the 15th of each month.

Yes, you can report abuse and neglect anonymously.  If you choose to share your name, it is confidential and can only be released by court order.

Parents are responsible for their children until they are 18. We will be happy to review counseling resources with you.

Yes. If any person obstructs or interferes with an investigation, the Director may file a petition requesting an order directing the person to cease such obstruction or interference. Obstruction or interference includes refusing to allow the social worker to interview the child in private.

For a child under the age of 18 to be emancipated, a petition must be filed with the Clerk of Court and a hearing held to determine whether there is evidence to support emancipation. A child must be self-supporting in order to be emancipated.

Call New Hanover County Department of Social Services during normal business hours at (910) 798-3420. After hours, on weekends and holidays call 911.

When children are abused, they have been seriously hurt, either physically or emotionally. This may also include any type of sexual abuse. When children are neglected, they have not received proper care or supervision. This may include children who do not receive necessary medical attention, who are inadequately fed or clothed, or who are inappropriately disciplined. Neglect also includes children who are left alone for long periods of time. We assess each situation on a case by case basis.

Reporting child abuse or neglect is the first step in protecting children from further harm. If you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, you should file a report with your local Department of Social Services. If it is an emergency, contact your local law enforcement agency. Your information can be given anonymously, if desired.

The reporter’s name remains confidential unless the department is court ordered to release that information.

If a child has the capacity for speech, the child must be interviewed, preferably in private and, under no circumstances, in the presence of the person or persons alleged to have caused or allowed abuse or neglect.

To get Food & Nutrition benefits, your income and your other resources have to be under certain limits.

  • Income: Your total income, before taxes or any other subtractions, is called gross income. However, the program allows certain deductions to be subtracted from your gross income. The deductions include housing costs, child support, medical expenses (for elderly or disabled people), or childcare costs. the amount of income left is called net income.

Most households must meet both gross and net income limits. If your household has a person who is 60 or older or who is disabled, you only need to meet the net income limit. If everyone in your household receives SSI or WFFA, you do not need to meet any of the income limits.

Look at the income table to find out what the gross and net income limits are for Food and Nutrition benefits. The amounts in this table are good from October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011.

People in Household Gross Monthly Income 200% Gross Monthly Income 130% Net Monthly Income
1 $1805 $1174 ​$903
2 $2428 $1579 ​$1215
3 $3052 $1984 ​$1526
4 $3675 $2389 ​$1838
5 $4298 $2794 ​$2150
6 $4922 $3200 ​$2461
7 $5545 $3605 ​$2773

Resources: Your resources are things like bank accounts. To qualify for Food and Nutrition benefits, your household may have up to $2,000 in resources. If your household has a person who is aged 60 or older or who is disabled, you may have up to $3,000 in resources.
Resources that don’t count are your home, land, buildings, most vehicles and the resources of people who receive WFFA or SSI.

To make an application, come into the New Hanover County Department of Social Services located at 1650 Greenfield Street. An Economic Services Caseworker will conduct an interview with you to start the process. To help speed the process along, please bring the following verifications:

  • Identification
  • Social Security Cards or numbers for all (including children)
  • Proof of Residence – (Lease, rent or mortgage receipts, Utility Bill)
  • Proof of Income – (Pay stubs, SSI, Social Security, Work First, Pensions or Other)
  • Bank Accounts – (Recent bank statements and or passbooks, etc.)
  • Utility Bills – (Gas, Electric, Phone, Water, and Sewer, etc.)
  • Tax Bill/Insurance – If Homeowner
  • If Elderly/Disabled – (Unpaid medical bills, Prescriptions, Health and Hospital Insurance)
  • Name and phone number of at least 1 person who can verify who lives with you.
  • Proof of Child Care Costs – (If employed or in school full time).
  • If you are unable to come into the office, you can appoint someone you trust to represent you in the office or an application can be mailed in (an application can be downloaded via online at and an interview can be conducted over the phone.

Call the E-FUNDS toll free customer service number, 1-888-622-7328.  They are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Food and Nutrition benefits help low income individuals purchase food. Authorized Food and Nutrition benefits are placed into an account. The benefits are accessed at grocery stores using an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card.

You can only use food and nutrition benefits for food and for plants and seeds to grow food for your family to eat. Food and Nutrition benefits cannot be used to buy:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tobacco or cigarettes
  • Household supplies, soaps, and paper products
  • Disposable diapers
  • Medicines or vitamins
  • Any other non-food items
  • Hot foods that are ready to eat, such as barbecued chicken
  • Pet foods

The toll free number is 1-888-622-7328 and they are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Your benefits will be available after 6:00 a.m. on the same day each month according to the last digit of the head of household’s Social Security Number, even if that day is on a weekend or a holiday. For instance:

1: 3rd day of every month
2: 4th day of every month
3: 5th day of every month
4: 6th day of every month
5: 7th day of every month
6: 8th day of every month
7: 9th day of every month
8: 10th day of every month
9: 11th day of every month
0: 12th day of every month

You may pick up an FL-2 from the customer service unit at the Department of Social Services.  You may call 798-3460 and request one be sent to you through the mail.

The Department does provide monthly assistance to help offset the costs of caring for a child in custody. Foster families use these funds to pay for food, clothing, school supplies, field trips, haircuts and other expenses associated with providing a child a safe and enriching home environment. The amount of assistance varies depending on the age of the child.

In addition to monthly assistance, the Department is involved with several programs which provide funding for children to participate in special activities.

Call us at (910) 798-3500 to talk to a foster parent licensing social worker.


We have more children in foster care than we have homes available to care for them.

When a home in New Hanover County is not available, the child must be placed in another county. What that means is a child who has already experienced the trauma of abuse or neglect and then separation from his or her family, must also separate from his/her neighborhood, school, friends, doctors and community. The further a child is from his/her family, the more difficult it is to arrange visits and keep the family connected. We find that even when children have experienced abuse or neglect, most still very much love their family and want to visit parents and siblings.

Of the approximately 300 children in out of home placement, 23% reside with relatives, 38% reside in New Hanover County and 39% reside outside of New Hanover County.

What happens when children cannot return to their birth family?

The Department of Social Services has the responsibility to reunite families whenever it is safe to do so. The Department usually works with birth parents toward getting their children back for about a year before pursuing other permanent placement options for the child.

There are times when children cannot return to their parents because of on-going safety issues and there are no other appropriate extended family members to care for the child.

The Department’s first responsibility is to attempt to safely return a child to his/her parents or other family members. If the Department is unable to identify a safe and willing caretaker within the family, we turn to our foster parents to provide a permanent home for the child.

The Department of Social Services has the responsibility to reunite families whenever it is safe to do so. The Department usually works with birth parents toward getting their children back for about a year before pursuing other permanent placement options for the child.

There are times when children cannot return to their parents because of on-going safety issues and there are no other appropriate extended family members to care for the child.

The Department’s first responsibility is to attempt to safely return a child to his/her parents or other family members. If the Department is unable to identify a safe and willing caretaker within the family, we turn to our foster parents to provide a permanent home for the child.

Foster families provide a temporary home for children, who for a variety of reasons including abuse, neglect or dependency cannot remain in the home of their parents or guardian and have entered Department of Social Services (DSS) custody.

Relatives who are providing a home for a child in DSS custody can become licensed as foster parents for that child – provided they meet all of the licensing rules- however, most of the time foster parents are people from the community willing to open their heart and home to a child they do not know.

Although designed to be temporary, there are times when a child is unable to return to his or her birth family and foster parents may adopt the children they’ve grown to love. (See our tab on Adoption from Foster Care for more information).

Children can enter DSS custody from birth until age 18. Children who are already in foster care when they turn 18 may be eligible to remain in DSS custody until they are 21. The advantage of this is that they can continue to have a safe home while they finish high school or go on to college or a trade school.

Nationwide, over half the children in foster care are over the age of 10 years.

Children in foster care are from all racial and socio-economic backgrounds. They have been abused, neglected or are without an appropriate adult to care for them.

Many children in foster care have special needs, including health issues, behavioral issues, special educational needs, and mental health diagnosis.

Just like each child in foster care is unique so is each foster family. Foster families, including relatives who chose to license as foster parents, must complete an in-depth licensing process which includes:

  • A 30 hour pre-service training course. Families also complete 10 hours of in-service training each year after becoming licensed.
  • Multiple background checks
  • A home study, including assessment of space, health and characteristics of all family members and safety conditions of the home.
  • Although there is no minimum income, the family must be able to meet their financial obligations.

The above list is not all inclusive of foster home licensing requirements. Please contact us to learn more about becoming a foster parent. (910) 798-3566 or​

Yes.  Department of Social Services supports a philosophy called “Shared Parenting” where foster and birth families work together for the support of a child.  Some examples of Shared parenting would be foster and birth parents attending school meetings together,  participating in agency meetings and exchanging photographs so that the child feels connected with all the adults in his/her life.  Foster parents can be good mentors for birth parents as well.  Potential foster parents learn about shared parenting at length during the pre-service training class (MAPP- Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting).

Adoption files in North Carolina are not open to the public.  Only non-identifying information and any health history that might be available can be shared with an adoptee.

The first step in adopting a child is to contact your local Department of Social Services.  In New Hanover County, call (910) 798-3475 to set up an appointment.  A social worker will meet with you to discuss your goals and desires, and will direct you toward the next step in the adoption process

Anyone who is 21 years or older, has a safe home, source of income, and has patience and love for children can apply to become a foster parent. They should contact their local Department of Social Services. In New Hanover County, call (910) 798-3566 regarding the application and training process.

The state’s Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) provides a one-time annual vendor payment to help eligible families pay their heating expenses during the cold-weather months.

Applications are taken:

  • Beginning December 1: households containing a person aged 60 or older, or an individual receiving disability benefits and services through the N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services are eligible
  •  January 2 through March 31, 2018 (or until funds are depleted): all other low-income households.

LIEAP checks are mailed directly to vendors when the process is complete.

Contact the New Hanover County Department of Social Services (910) 798-3500.​

For any questions on LIEAP eligibility, call New Hanover Department of Social Services (910) 798-3500.​

Medicaid pays the medical provider directly. No payment is made to the recipient.  Persons residing in Adult Care Homes (often called rest homes) may be eligible for a check under the Special Assistance Program to help pay for their monthly cost of care in the home. Clients who qualify for WFFA get a check and Medicaid.

Medicaid pays for covered medical and health care services for eligible families with children and for adults who are:

  • 65 or older
  • Blind
  • Disabled
  • The caretaker of a child under age 19 who receives Medicaid, or pregnant

Resources are considered when determining eligibility for most programs. Income limits are based on the federal poverty level and range from 100 to 200% of the federal poverty level depending on the program for which you are eligible.

Medicaid cards are mailed to recipients annually. If you misplace your card, contact your Medicaid worker regarding a replacement card.

You may come to the New Hanover County Department of Social Services to apply or request an application be mailed to you.

To make an application, you or someone you trust to represent you, should visit the Department of Social Services in the county where you live. New Hanover County Department of Social Services is located at 1650 Greenfield Street, telephone number is (910) 798-3500. If you are unable to go to Social Services, you may request a home visit. You may request an application to be mailed to you. You are not required to take anything with you when applying; however, it is helpful if you have your Social Security Number, proof of your income and information about your resources (such as recent bank statements for all accounts, insurance policies, health insurance cards). If you are self-employed, your business records and/or tax records would be helpful.

If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you are automatically covered for Medicaid. You may apply for SSI at the nearest local Social Security Office. You can call the Social Security Office at 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY) between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. for more information.

Carolina Access is a Medicaid managed care program.  As a Medicaid recipient you must participate in this program unless you receive Medicaid as a pregnant woman, a child in foster care, a Community Alternative Program (CAP) participant, or you have Medicare.

As defined by Social Security, it is a physical or mental impairment which prevents an individual from engaging in any substantial, gainful activity, and which has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months, or is expected to result in death.  To apply for disability benefits, you must apply through the Social Security Administration offices, 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY).

Medicaid benefits and eligibility vary according to a person’s circumstances.  Some individuals may be serviced by Carolina ACCESS which is a managed care program that links you with a personal doctor who accepts Medicaid.  This doctor is referred to as your Primary Care Provider.  If you are not linked by Carolina ACCESS you will need to contact individual doctor’s or dentist’s offices to see if they accept Medicaid.  Your local Department of Social Services may be able to provide the names of doctors and dentists who are known to accept Medicaid patients.

If you meet eligibility requirements, Medicaid will pay for some portion of your cost of care in a long term skilled or intermediate care facility as well as medical expenses.

If you receive CAP or are in a long term care facility, estate recovery may apply to you. This means at the time of your death the government may make a claim against your estate to recover the money paid to medical providers on your behalf.

To make an application, come into the New Hanover County Department of Social Services during regular business hours.  Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Work First is a temporary assistance for needy families.   Recipients of Work First Financial Assistance are required to get a job, paid or unpaid, or be in short term training within 12 weeks.  The goal of Work First is to help parents support their children through work.

If you are receiving Medicaid and you need assistance getting to medical treatment, call the Transportation Coordinator at (910)798-3500 option 7 or come into the New Hanover County Department of Social Services. ​

Assistance with transportation to and from work is based on income and availability of funds. You will need to see a social worker in Services Intake. Call (910)798-3500 to make an appointment.

Social Security and Medicare are both administered by the Social Security Administration located at  1528 S. 16th Street.  Social Services administers the Medicaid program.

You can call New Hanover County Department of Social Services at (910) 798-3500 to make an appointment or you can come to the agency and be seen by a worker on a walk-in basis. A social worker will assess the situation and determine if we can assist you. If you already have a social worker, contact them to make an appointment.

Child Support Enforcement services are available to anyone who has custody of a minor dependent child regardless of income. Child Support Enforcement can help in location of absent parents, establishment of paternity for children born outside of marriage, establishment of support obligations, collection and distribution of support, and enforcement of support obligations. In New Hanover County, child support is contracted to Young Williams. The office is located at 108 Cinema Drive in Wilmington.
Call (910) 343-3355 for an appointment.

The New Hanover County Department of Human resources accepts applications on behalf of the Department of Social Services. Applications for Economic Services are accepted on an on-going basis and are maintained by the County Department of Human Resources. The Department of Social Services requests applications as vacancies occur.

All other vacancies are advertised. The County Department of Human Resources accepts applications for these vacancies as they occur and forwards them to the Department of Social Services.

You may contact the Department of Human Resources regarding the status of vacancies within the county, including the Department of Social Services. The number is (910) 798-7178. New Hanover County also has a “Job Line” number that consists of a recording listing job opportunities within the county. That number is (910) 798-7163. You may also visit New Hanover County’s web site at

The New Hanover County Department of Social Services is located between 16th and 17th Streets at 1650 Greenfield Street. Some familiar landmarks that are close to our facility are the Wilmington Housing Authority, the Social Security Administration, and the Scottish Rite Temple.

If you suspect fraudulent activity involving Medicaid Providers (doctors, pharmacies, etc.,), you should contact the Program Integrity Section of the North Carolina Division of Medical Assistance. You can reach the Program Integrity Section toll-free by calling the CARE-LINE at 1-800-662-7030 and asking for the DMA Program Integrity Section.

To report fraudulent activity involving grocers, you should contact the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) at 910-790-2929.

To report recipient fraud in any program, contact the Department of Social Services in which the recipient lives. For New Hanover County Department of Social Services, call (910)798-3500.

Contact the New Hanover County Department of Social Services @ (910) 798-3500.

Go to the following website and follow the instructions for completing a Youth Work Permit:

The agency is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday – 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Wednesday – 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.​

The Director of Social Services is appointed by the Board of Social Services in accordance with the merit system rules of the State Personnel Commission.

Social Services: 1650 Greenfield Street • Wilmington, NC 28401 • Phone 910-798-3500 • Fax 910-798-7824
Skip to content