Crystal Ambrose, who serves as an income maintenance supervisor for the Economic Services Unit of the Dare County Department of Health & Human Services’ Social Services Division, has been named Dare County Employee of the Month for April 2023. The award was presented to Ambrose by Dare County Department of Health & Human Services Social Services Division Director Chuck Lycett during the Dare County Board of Commissioners meeting that was held at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 3, 2023.
Ambrose initially began her service to the county on January 4, 2006, when she was hired to work as an income maintenance caseworker II for the Department of Health & Human Services’ Economic Services Unit, whose staff members are tasked with determining eligibility for individuals and families in need who may be able to receive financial assistance through various programs, such as Medicaid, Work First, Energy Assistance, and Food & Nutrition Services, among others.
On March 13, 2008, Ambrose was promoted to the position of income maintenance investigator, and she was promoted to her current position of income maintenance supervisor on October 23, 2016.
As he began his Employee of the Month presentation, Lycett explained the integral role that Ambrose and her team within the Economic Services Unit play, as well as the essential services they provide to the thousands of members of the Dare County community who utilize such financial assistance programs—many of which are quite complicated to navigate when it comes to determining a family or individual’s eligibility.
“Processing applications is labor intensive as there is little automation to determine eligibility,” said Lycett. “This week, the Economic Services Unit begins the task of Medicaid and [Food & Nutrition Services] unwinding from the pandemic, meaning individuals who were determined to be ineligible during the pandemic will be terminated. Before terminating the individual, the [Economic Services Unit employee] must decide if the individual is eligible for another program. This is the same unit that is preparing to process the estimated 1,800 applications for Dare County residents as part of Medicaid expansion. The challenges this unit will face over the next 12 months are daunting.”
In addition to the difficulties of the duties that must be performed by these staff members on a day-to-day basis, the team was faced with another considerable challenge when a series of vacancies started to occur within the Economic Services Unit over the course of the past several months. Despite these challenges, however, Lycett knew he could count on Ambrose to step up to the plate and not only meet the needs and expectations of both her colleagues and the Dare County community, but also exceed them.
“I’m excited to present this month’s Employee of the Month to an individual who rose up to meet a significant challenge over the last year—not only because the individual overcame the challenge but because the individual has grown professionally as a result,” said Lycett, as he invited Ambrose to join him at the podium.
During his presentation, Lycett highlighted Ambrose’s extensive efforts to jump in and provide assistance whenever and wherever she was needed while the Economic Services Unit was short staffed.
“I asked Crystal if she was up to the challenge of completing the unit’s work until the positions were filled and if she was ready to provide the training to the new staff,” he said. “She accepted the challenge. Each week, Crystal and the supervisors interviewed candidates for the vacancies, and as new staff were hired, Crystal started training them. By March 2023, she had filled all of her vacancies.”
Lycett also praised Ambrose for her exceptional supervisory skills and her dedication to ensuring that the staff members who were ultimately hired to take on these important roles are properly trained and able to successfully perform some rather difficult and intricate duties.
“She supervises eight staff who are responsible for determining eligibility for Adult Medicaid and non-emergency Medicaid transportation, and the Adult Medicaid program that she oversees is one of the most difficult programs in Medicaid because of the number of rules they must know and apply,” Lycett said. “In any given case, staff must be able to read trusts, search for property and personal property, understand bank statements and retirement plans, read medical records and be a sleuth at finding other income an individual may have, and all of this must be completed within established timeframes.”
Lycett also commented, “Following our philosophy of growing our own staff, Crystal committed to training the two individuals who brought with them a wealth of experience from other backgrounds but had little experience within social services. Crystal realizes the work has just begun, and she’s committed to the ongoing development of her team.”
In addition to Lycett, Ambrose also received praise from colleagues who recommended her for the Employee of the Month honor, one of whom wrote the following in their nomination form: “I am nominating Crystal Ambrose because she goes above and beyond to be kind in every situation, not only for her clients but her staff as well. Crystal is very fair, nonjudgmental and works alongside her staff in every situation. She has helped with the workload when Adult Medicaid was short staffed and has been very aware of the stress these programs can put on a worker. Crystal has had to train new staff since we lost our full-time trainer, along with her daily supervisor duties. Crystal always has time for her staff and is very deserving of this recognition.”
As he concluded his presentation, Lycett commented, “Her commitment, leadership, being proactive, and her dedication to her unit have allowed Crystal to overcome the challenges before her. She is a true example of someone who is dedicated to her work and cares about the residents of Dare County. She is a shining example of a Dare County employee who goes above and beyond. Congratulations, Crystal, on being selected as Dare County Employee of the Month.”