North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
Division of Social Services
2407 Mail Service CenterRaleigh, North Carolina 27699-2407
Michael F. Easley, Governor
Pheon E. Beal, Director
Carmen Hooker Odom, Secretary
October 11, 2002
Harry L. Jones, Sr.
600 East Fourth Street, 11th Floor
Charlotte, North Carolina 28202
Dear Mr. Jones:
Due to concerns from the community regarding service delivery surrounding a highly publicized case with the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, the County's Internal Auditor requested that the State Division of Social Services conduct an independent review of this case. The Division of Social Services sent two experienced Children's Services consultants to Mecklenburg County on October 4, 2002, to conduct a comprehensive review of the case file. These two professionals do not otherwise have a consultative relationship with Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services and were able to provide an objective and independent review of this case.
The purpose of this review was to evaluate from the case documentation and interviews with pertinent parties whether the agency had followed law, policy and standards in their fulfillment of their statutory responsibility to protect children from maltreatment. Interviews were conducted with front line and supervisory staff of the agency, the current Guardian ad Litem Volunteer Case Manager, the Placement Provider for the children, and the Attorney for Mecklenburg County Youth and Family Services.
The comprehensive review of the written documentation and information from the interviews confirms that the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, Youth and Family Services staff, has complied with law, policy, and standards in this case. Written case documentation is thorough. The justifications for all decisions made by the agency to protect the children are clearly recorded. The written documentation and interviews reflect the agency's appropriate responses to safety issues, diligent efforts to involve the parents in problem solving, and an appropriate focus on the children's needs for safety and stability.
Too often, the laws of confidentiality designed to protect children also prevent a county Department of Social Services from disclosing any identifying information or other details from a case that the public may want. We regret that this is apparently the situation in this case. We are confident that if the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services was allowed under the law to disclose the details of their work in this case, there would be strong public consensus that the agency's actions have been reasonable and adhere to law, policy, and standards designed to protect children from harm. The State Division is satisfied with the your agency's performance and no further action is warranted by the Division in regards to this specific case.
If you have any further questions about the findings of this case record review, please contact me.
Charles C. Harris, Chief
Children's Services Section
cc: Richard W. "Jake" Jacobsen, Jr., Director, Mecklenburg County DSS
Cornita Spears, Mecklenburg County Internal Auditor
Dannette Smith, Director, Mecklenburg County Youth and Family Services
Pheon Beal, Director, Division of Social Services
Sherry Bradsher, Deputy Director, Division of Social Services