Three state child service offices to close

The Associated Press

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RALEIGH — Three regional North Carolina government offices designed to help the youngest children with developmental delays or mental or physical disabilities are closing, eliminating more than 170 state employee positions. Many displaced workers could get rehired for similar jobs.

The Department of Health and Human Services plans to close Children's Developmental Services Agencies in New Bern, Rocky Mount and Wilmington as of July 1, according to a statement released by the department this week. The decision comes as the two-year state budget approved in 2013 calls for a $10 million reduction in the coming fiscal year and job eliminations for the children's agencies.

The offices help administer the North Carolina Infant-Toddler Program, where families can get services for children up to age 3 at little or no cost and through Medicaid or private insurance. About 20,000 children are enrolled each year in the program.

Services in the affected regions will continue as program administration is contracted to the East Carolina University School of Medicine, which already provides the children's agency work in the Greenville area. East Carolina is expected to add 150 positions that could be filled by the state workers working at the three locations being shuttered, DHHS spokeswoman Julie Henry said Wednesday.

DHHS is working closely with East Carolina "to ensure that quality services to families and children continue without interruption and to provide opportunities for employment" to current agency staff, a department statement said.

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