The following is a message that was left on my answering machine October 24, 2006.
Hal Wilson to Phyllis Fulton <<<< Click this link to hear. (left on my answering machine)
*I did remove the child’s name from this audio recording!
In it Oscar Howard “Hal” Wilson III, a Social Worker Supervisor at the Wilkes County Department of Social Services called our home, believing that he was calling Phyllis Fulton in Raleigh. During his lengthy message to Ms. Fulton, which he left on our home answering machine, he released my name as the reporter, the child’s name, and basically admitted that it was improbable the child received all of these bruises from a haunted ‘hay ride, but…’ He also said that they were going to advise me to make another report. A report that I was later criticized for making.
The level of incompetence required to make this phone call and then leave this message is astounding..
First, “Hal” had to dial the wrong number, Phyllis Fulton’s area code is 919, mine is 336, a huge difference. Mr Wilson should have realized he was dialing a local number, since Wilkes County’s area code is also 336.
Next, my answering machine, at the time, clearly indicated that “you have reached the Nixon family“. NOT Phyllis Fulton at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
Third, Hal then proceeds to break the law. He releases the child’s name, (which I removed from this copy of the recording) then the reporters name on MY ANSWERING MACHINE.
Hal Wilson had no clue who he was talking to, no idea who would hear this message.
But as a social worker supervisor, he should have!
Finally, He admits, “We kind of surmised, after hearing the child had been out on a hayride, we thought well maybe she could have gotten some bruising from that “although its improbable“ but the child’s age was taken into consideration….”
The last time I checked, which hasn’t been long, the North Carolina General Statutes does not say that DSS and the Director are only required to investigate and accept reports, where the child is saying something “adverse” has happened to them.
Nor does it say that DSS is allowed to listen to the concerns of the reporter and just ASSUME that the bruises or injuries happened in an accident.
…and that is not what he says here, he basically admits that it is improbable that she received the bruises on the “hay ride” but they chose not to investigate the report based on their own conclusions, without ever talking to the child or viewing the bruises! (it wasn’t a “hay ride” at all, but a haunted trail, that she was carried through by her daddy…and no injuries occurred there! DSS was informed of this at the time of the report!)
Of course, Hal’s statement in this phone call does not say that they believe “the child received the bruises by accidental means, Hal’s statement in this phone call says, although we believe it is improbable that this child received the bruises during a “hayride”, we aren’t going to investigate this report.
So they believed that this child received these bruises some other way, other than a hayride, possibly from abuse, but they were not going to investigate it because the child DID NOT state she was being abused!
…and while the child had not stated that anything adverse had happened to her, she had not stated that anything adverse HAD NOT happened to her either!
I did not question her about the bruises, because I did not want to take the chance that DSS would then say that I coached her, or put ideas into her head!
I did what I was told to do, if the child came to our home with unexplained bruises I was supposed to call Allison Baker, which I did, but she refused to come to our home and talk to the child and see the bruises…and instead told me to call the “on call worker”, who refused the report.
In the letter that I received explaining why the report was not accepted, the reasons given is, “the child is nine years old and is not stating that anything adverse has happened to her.”
It further states “Allegations do not meet CPS criteria”
Yet according to Chapter VIII:Protective Services 1407 – STRUCTURED INTAKE a report of abuse is supposed to be screened using the following tools, (I have placed only the ones that apply to this case here) :
VI. MALTREATMENT SCREENING TOOL AND PROCEDURES
The purpose of the screening tools is to determine which reports meet the legal definitions of abuse, neglect and dependency and to aid in achieving consistency in regards to the screening of CPS reports.
|Which cases:||The screening tools are to be utilized with every CPS report received in order to determine whether the allegations meet the legal definitions of abuse, neglect and dependency. If the information received meets the legal definitions; a CPS assessment is required. This includes telephone calls and all other means of referral, and includes information on new families and families already known to the agency; whether or not a case is open to CPS Assessments/Investigations, CPS In-Home Services or Child Placement Services.|
|Who:||Every staff member who has the responsibility for CPS intake.|
|Decision:||Screening tools determine whether the report should be accepted for CPS assessment. This is a joint decision made with the CPS Intake social worker and the supervisor.|
|When:||Screening tools are consulted immediately upon receipt of the report.|
|Appropriate Consultation:||Please refer to the definitions page for each screening tool. The tools correspond with the abuse, neglect and dependency statutes. The corresponding screening tools for abuse reports include: physical injury, cruel/grossly inappropriate behavior modification, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and moral turpitude. The corresponding tools for neglect reports include: improper care, improper supervision, improper discipline, abandonment, improper medical/remedial care, injurious environment, and illegal placement/adoption. The directions provide case examples but are not all-inclusive. It is impossible to account for all incidences of child abuse, neglect and dependency. These tools are guidelines to assist in the decision making process. The social worker should consult each tool as it corresponds to the allegations. Every allegation made by the reporter requires an examination of the corresponding screening tool. It is likely that a reporter will allege maltreatment which requires an examination of multiple screening tools. It is crucial to evaluate each allegation based on the statutory definitions of abuse, neglect and dependency, and consulting the Maltreatment Screening Tools serves this purpose.|
Is the parent/caretaker causing serious non-accidental physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death, disfigurement, or impairment?
Fractures, subdural hematoma, dislocations, sprains, internal injuries, burns and inflicted injuries such as extensive welts, bruises, lacerations and abrasions would be indicative of abuse. The specific injuries listed are not intended to be an all-inclusive list, but are an indication of information that does warrant an Investigative Assessment. There may be instances where a child has bruises that do not rise to the level of abuse, but are considered improper discipline (refer to Improper Discipline Maltreatment Screening Tool), as well as situations where there may be bruising and there is no abuse or neglect. Physical abuse of a preschool aged child or a developmentally disabled child requires an immediate response.
I. Improper Discipline Screening Tool Directions
Is the parent/caretaker using corporal punishment that results in any type of injury, cuts or extreme bruises?
...significant trauma and tissue damage, such as bruises, welts, or lacerations may be signs of child neglect (inappropriate discipline) or child abuse, depending on the extent of the injuries. Factors to consider regarding bruising include: location and severity of the injury, child’s age and developmental stage, and whether the bruises are consistent with normal play. Injuries such as these, not resulting from an accident, must be assessed. A definition of significant trauma is any injury beyond temporary redness of the skin. A practical guideline to use is that any inflicted injury which lasts more than 24 hours constitutes significant injury and requires an investigation. (PEDIATRICS, Vol. 110 No. 3, September 2002, American Academy of Pediatrics.) A reporter’s knowledge that this was the parent’s first time inflicting such an injury or that the injury is just a small bruise does not impact screening. Spanking and corporal punishment should be confined to the buttocks or legs and should not result in injury, scarring or bruising. Physical discipline that is administered to a child’s head or torso area presents a greater risk of injury. The child’s age and abilities are relevant to whether the discipline used is reasonable…”
If the appropriate response is in doubt, the social worker should respond in the most protective way.
Yet even though, Hal Wilson, thought it was improbable that the bruises occurred during a hayride, and knowing that this child had a hand shaped BRUISE on her inner thigh, and bruises on her stomach (a very dangerous area to hit) as well as other bruises…he chose to screen out this report of abuse because the child did not say she was being abused!
This is not how you investigate reports of child abuse, this is how children end up dead!
A look at the law…
“§ 7B‑302. Assessment by director; access to confidential information; notification of person making the report.
(a) When a report of abuse, neglect, or dependency is received, the director of the department of social services shall make a prompt and thorough assessment, using either a family assessment response or an investigative assessment response, in order to ascertain the facts of the case, the extent of the abuse or neglect, and the risk of harm to the juvenile, in order to determine whether protective services should be provided or the complaint filed as a petition. When the report alleges abuse, the director shall immediately, but no later than 24 hours after receipt of the report, initiate the assessment. When the report alleges neglect or dependency, the director shall initiate the assessment within 72 hours following receipt of the report. When the report alleges abandonment, the director shall immediately initiate an assessment, take appropriate steps to assume temporary custody of the juvenile, and take appropriate steps to secure an order for nonsecure custody of the juvenile. The assessment and evaluation shall include a visit to the place where the juvenile resides, except when the report alleges abuse or neglect in a child care facility as defined in Article 7 of Chapter 110 of the General Statutes. When a report alleges abuse or neglect in a child care facility as defined in Article 7 of Chapter 110 of the General Statutes, a visit to the place where the juvenile resides is not required. When the report alleges abandonment, the assessment shall include a request from the director to law enforcement officials to investigate through the North Carolina Center for Missing Persons and other national and State resources whether the juvenile is a missing child.
(a1) All information received by the department of social services, including the identity of the reporter, shall be held in strictest confidence by the department, except that:…”
No where in the law does it state that the department of social services is to listen to the report and then JUMP to conclusions about how the bruises occurred!
Nor does the law state that the only reports that will be accepted and investigated are those where the child is saying that someone abused them.
Furthermore, there is no age limitations for investigating a report of abuse, meaning the age of the child does not matter, they are supposed to investigate reports of abuse of any child under the age of 18, who is not married, emancipated, or a member of the armed forces.
If DSS receives a report of abuse saying that suspected abuse is happening to a nine year old, whether that nine year old is saying it is or not, they are required by law to investigate that report.
Unexplained bruises, some of which look like a hand print fit the criteria of suspected abuse and should be accepted for CPS investigation.
That is not what happened here.
And because that did not happen here, because of the obvious incompetence of this supervisor and the Wilkes County Department of Social Services, this child was left in the care of her mother, and the abuse was allowed to continue, while DSS turned their focus to shutting us up with a malicious, unethical, and illegal investigation!
The failure of the Wilkes County Department of Social Services to protect the child in this case, especially in light of their belief that it was improbable that the bruises occurred by accidental means, constitutes willful failure to follow the laws of North Carolina and America, as well as willful failure to protect a child from abuse.
I believe that breaking the law is a criminal offense, so why haven’t these people been charged with the crimes they committed?