Barrow County Department of Family and Children Services has now relocated to its new 24,000-square-foot building at 63 Lays Dr. in Winder, near the Social Security Administration building off East Broad Street.

The move from the old location at 16 Lee St. was made official Thursday, Oct. 1.

Construction of the new facility began earlier this year and was overseen by Buford-based Forum Development Services, which has constructed roughly two dozen similar DFCS facilities across Georgia over the last 20 years. The new building will triple the amount of space DFCS had at the old location and, according to a state news release, also comes with increased front-desk security features and enhanced parking lot security monitoring.

Forum Development Services, which will also manage the facility, was awarded the project by the State Properties Commission, and the Winder Downtown Development Authority is acting as a financing conduit.

The authority sold $7.3 million in bonds, which will be paid through the state’s lease of the building for 15 years at a 3.18-percent interest rate. After 15 years, the DDA will have ownership of the building and will have the option to continue leasing the building to the state or find another use for it.

The DDA, in September 2019, created the Winder Lays Drive Project Corporation to hold title to the building. Authority leaders have said the project is a “safe” way for the authority to eventually have its own money coming in.

Forum representatives told the board last year that even if the state exercised an option to terminate the lease ahead of time, which has never happened, or if the company were to go under, the DDA would not have any financial liability.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, those needing economic assistance and child welfare services in Barrow County are encouraged to access self-service options online, according to the state’s news release.

•To apply for food stamp, Medicaid and TANF benefits, go to gateway.ga.gov. An application is available for download at dfcs.georgia.gov/services.

•For electronic benefits transfer (EBT), go to www.connectebt.com/gaebtclient. Call 888-421-3281 for updates.

Those without internet access can contact the DFCS Customer Contact Center at 877-423-4746 to apply for benefits, check the status of existing applications or request assistance. Applications and verification for all program areas can be mailed to Barrow DFCS, 63 Lays Dr., Winder, GA 30680.

For more information and updates about the relocation, call 770-868-4222. To report instances of child abuse or neglect, call the DFCS Child Protective Services Intake Communication Center at 1-855-422-4453.

Ongoing DFCS updates will be posted at www.dfcs.ga.gov.

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