MecklenburgCountyNC.gov
News
How Do I ...
Online Services
Public Records
Departments
2014 Stories
2013 Stories
2012 Stories
2011 Stories
2010 Stories
2009 Stories
2008 Stories
2007 Stories
2006 Stories
2005 Stories
2004 Stories
2003 Stories
2002 Stories
2002 News from Mecklenburg County

October 11, 2002

STATE INVESTIGATION REPORT VALIDATES NO WRONGDOING AT DSS

Charlotte, NC— For the second time this week, an independent source has cleared the Department of Social Services with any wrongdoing in the child custody case of Jack and Kathy Stratton.

The State of North Carolina's independent review of Mecklenburg County's Department of Social Services (DSS) concludes that all law, regulations, and polices were followed with regard to child protective services.  The report from the State's Division of Social Services comes on the heels of the State Attorney General's report that there is no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing or even enough evidence to warrant an investigation into alleged illegal activity by DSS.

Due to concerns regarding a highly publicized child protective case, the County's Internal Audit Department requested the State Division of Social Services conduct an independent review of the case.  The review evaluated case documentation and interviews with parties in the case to determine whether the Mecklenburg DSS followed law, policy and standards in carrying out its statutory responsibility to protect children from abuse and neglect.

In a letter to County Manager Harry Jones, Charles Harris, Chief of the Children's Services Section of the State Division of Social Services, said, "The comprehensive review …confirms that the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, Youth and Family Services staff, has complied with law, policy and standards in this case."  Harris further said, "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."

Harris' letter concludes that, "We are confident that if the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services was allowed under 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 the children from harm."

"We've maintained our commitment to uphold the law and state standards, including not disclosing the specifics of any child protective case, despite being publicly criticized with unsubstantiated and unsupported rumors and innuendo," said Jones.  "Now we have two credible and independent sources that tell the people of Mecklenburg County that their Department of Social Services is operating according to law and according to prescribed standards in protecting the children of this community."

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  
(919) 733-3055

 
October 11, 2002
 
Harry L. Jones, Sr.
County Manager
Mecklenburg County
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.

 
Sincerely,
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



Printed from:

on: