Welcome To Swain County

Social Services


The agency provides all necessary services as a disinterested public guardian when appointed by the Clerk of Court under General Statute 35A. In cases where elderly or disabled individuals need a guardian to assure their health, safety, and well-being. In some cases, Social Services is appointed to be guardian of such persons by the court.

Guardianship is a legal relationship in which someone (the guardian) is authorized by the clerk of superior court to be a substitute decision maker for an incompetent adult (the ward). Incompetence is determined in a court proceeding and means an individual is unable to manage his own affairs, or is unable to make important decisions.

There are three types of guardian:
Guardian of the person (makes decisions in most areas of the ward's life, such as where they live, what type of care they receive, medical decisions)
Guardian of the Estate (has authority to manage the ward's income and property) and
General Guardian (has the powers and duties of both guardian of the person, and guardian of the estate)
Anyone, including a family member, a representative of a department of social services, mental health center, health department, or anyone else who knows the person, may file a written request (a petition) with the clerk of superior court alleging that an adult should be declared incompetent and have a guardian appointed. Every clerk's office has forms that may be completed and filed for the petition. Currently the Adult Protective Service Unit may file a petition on individuals who are either indigent, or in need of protection, AND HAVE NO ONE WHO CAN OR WILL ACT IN THEIR BEHALF.
The Department of Social Services currently serves as Guardian for a number of wards, who either have no family, or none available to serve in that capacity.
Guardianship Services include:
Case management Monthly assessment of ward's needs (by visiting with the ward, communicating with health providers, and other persons who are involved with the ward) Development of a service plan Quarterly assessments and yearly assessments and File necessary reports with the court/estate division


Department of Social Services
80 Academy Street
Bryson City, NC 28713

Mailing Address
PO Box 610
Bryson City, NC 28713


Sheila Sutton, Director
Phone 828-488-6921
Fax 828-488-8271

Office Hours