TAMPA — In an effort to establish trust with residents, the county's Social Services Department is undergoing an overhaul that includes training, technology and a new motto: Service matters.
The agency helps residents deal with issues related to education, shelter, transportation, jobs and utilities.
Part of its rebranding efforts include changing the name of the county's five neighborhood service centers to community resource centers instead.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman scheduled some surprise visits to the centers to evaluate the work being done. And while she took note of progress, she said she saw room for improvement.
"Quite frankly, we can do more," she said. "We need to step it up a notch."
The department has new leadership and is now focusing on implementing a 24-hour customer service online portal, training case workers and redesigning the centers.
In other action at their meeting Wednesday, commissioners:
• Approved the first phase of a contract with the Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance to create a manufacturing academy and apprenticeship and internship program for young people in Hillsborough County. The commission provided $350,000 for operational support services and to address the identified skills gap in the county.
• Approved a request for a proposal to find a vendor to run a new homeless shelter in a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office facility near the Orient Road jail. The facility would house 184 homeless people and provide on-site support services. The first phase of improvements is estimated to cost $290,000.