Wilkes Co. looking at DSS problems

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WILKES COUNTY, N.C. — The Board of Social Services met behind closed doors for three hours Wednesday to discuss the state's evaluation report outlining several deficiencies within the department.

The investigation began after state officials learned of a case where county social workers removed two young girls from one sexually abusive home, then placed them in a home where they were sexually abused again.

North Carolina Division of Social Services staffers reviewed a sample of 28 cases in March and found that social workers and supervisors were spread too thin. Part of the problem was an unusually high number of unfilled child welfare positions and a 40 percent turnover rate for child protection services.

The board ordered DSS Director Bill Sabastian to create a plan that addresses the deficiencies and hires a fifth supervisor.

The board also wants Sabastian to present a plan to county leaders for funding a social service program manager to oversee child protection services. His plan will also be overseen by a state official.

Sabastian believes he can have a plan in place in a few weeks. The state report says there will be a follow up review within six months.

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