GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — On Thursday night, Guilford County Commissioners are set to meet in closed session to get a more in-depth briefing on the policy violations the state pointed out to the leadership of the Guilford County Department of Social Services, following the death of three young children in a December fire.
There is a 5:00 p.m. deadline Friday for Director Sharon Barlow to submit a corrective action plan.
A regional child welfare consultant has already met with local DSS leaders. The state welfare consultant helping develop the corrective action plan has been to Guilford County twice. The first visit happened on May 22, less than one week after state leaders sent a letter to Guilford County DSS. On Monday, the second visit took place. Two others are scheduled before the end of the month.
From 2022 until April of this year, Guilford County DSS has received more than $40.5 million in federal funding. To keep getting dollars, the department needs to make sure policy is followed. The county’s DSS is in hot water.
A state investigation revealed leading up to the deaths of three children living at this home on Grimsley Street in Greensboro, caseworkers did not follow up on the mother’s reported safety concerns and failed to properly fill out reports. FOX8 has tried and been denied the specifics of those concerns.
We can confirm since 2016, DSS received nine complaints filed with child protective services against Brandi Sturdivant, the mother of 4-year-old Antonio Little and 1-year-old twins Aerious and A’nyis Little. One of the complaints was less than a month before the three children died in the house fire.
“the department of social services did get a phone call about Ms. Sturdivant leaving her children at night and having them unattended in the middle of the night,” said a representative from the district attorney’s office at a court appearance on January 30.
In the same court hearing, prosecutors revealed another danger in the home.
“When Detective Bersino interviewed Ms. Sturdivant, she admitted she kept cocaine in her home in a box,” said the representative.
FOX8 crews went back to the neighborhood Thursday afternoon. The house remains boarded up with a condemned sign on the door. Neighbors wondered what this DSS issue means for the case against Sturdivant.
We reached out to the Guilford County District Attorney’s Office to see if she would be charged with anything beyond the three counts of felony child abuse with serious physical injury keeping her in jail. The Chief Assistant DA Chris Parrish said no comment while the case remains open.
We called and left messages for DSS Director Sharon Barlow. She never responded.
A county spokesperson told us she will not be doing any interviews until after the corrective plan is submitted and reviewed.