‘I would say it has increased dramatically’: Substance abuse putting local kids at risk for neglect, abuse

DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. -- April is child abuse prevention month. It is also when Davidson County’s community child protection and child fatality prevention teams will present their annual findings to commissioners.

This year’s report states that parental substance abuse appears to be the number-one cause of neglect in 2018. It also says that 103 reports of substance-affected infants have been filed with CPS since tracking began in 2017. There have already been 24 cases this year.

“It's not only making it where people cannot hold down employment and a job, it's making it where they are not making good decisions for their family and the safety of their family,” said Dale Moorefield, the director of the Davidson County Department of Social Services.

Moorefield says that since 2013, there has been a 62 percent increase in the department taking custody of children.

“Eighty-five to 90 percent of those children are coming out of substance-abuse situations,” Moorefield said.

He is requesting 11 additional DSS employee positions to keep up with the added cases.

“We desperately need additional folks here in this agency to able to get these visits done and be able to work with families,” Moorefield said.

Dr. Amy Suttle is the medical director at The DragonFly House Children Advocacy Center.

She is also on the protection and fatality prevention teams.

“We have very young children who can describe to us how to shoot up IV drugs,” Suttle said.

Suttle says substance abuse puts kids at a higher risk for neglect, physical and sexual abuse. She is seeing more cases with it as a factor.

“I've been doing these exams for more than 30 years, I would say it has increased dramatically,” Suttle said.

Anyone who sees or suspects child abuse is asked to contact their local department of social services. Moorefield says it is everyone’s responsibility to report abuse.

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