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Tag Archives: Rowan County Department of Social Services

Death of 8-month-old prompts Social Services to launch campaign to prevent child deaths from co-sleeping

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 3:00 AM

 By Jessie Burchette

To avoid more child deaths from co-sleeping arrangements, the Rowan County Department of Social Services will launch a public awareness campaign and provide cribs and suitable beds.

The department will also do more drug screening of potential caregivers and seek court action when parents or caregivers don’t make adequate progress.

And other in-house changes will be made in how Social Services staff handles cases.

The changes outlined Tuesday evening to the Rowan County Social Services Board follow the recommendations of the State Child Fatality Review Team, which investigated the death of an 8-month-old child on May 2, 2008. The cause of death is officially “undetermined,” but officials concluded the child may have suffocated because of co-sleeping with his father. The 8-month-old and another child slept on a sofa with the father and apparently never had a bed.

Social Services was involved with the family and received reports about neglect, but the case was assigned to an intern.

Social Services Director Sandra Wilkes and Children’s Services Administrator Tom Brewer outlined the plan and provided a timeline for the various actions to be carried out.

The first action will start today with a session at Rowan Regional Medical Center where representatives of the hospital, law enforcement, the schools and Social Services will renew training on requirements to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

Social Services will develop a community-wide program to let people know the danger of co-sleeping arrangements for children ages 2 and younger.

A community round table will be held June 30 on the risks of co-sleeping.

Staff will document sleeping arrangements in homes and work to end dangerous situations.

Effective immediately, supervisors will not assign immediate cases to a social worker who has less than six months of experience. Social Services administrators will develop a job description for student interns.

Brewer also outlined several ongoing efforts including coming up with more money to pay for drug screening. The department has $1,200 a month budgeted for drug tests, but has exceeded that for several months. Brewer said that program is in danger of running out of money completely this budget year.

John Blair, board member, questioned whether the child’s mother was tested for drugs shortly after he was found dead.

Wilkes said the mother, who had a history of drug abuse, was not tested because the child was with his father.

The plan will involve supervisors and the Social Services attorney in a coordinated effort to seek help from District Court judges when parents are non-compliant with the home service plan.

Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.

Yes, lets talk about responsibility and accountablitiy….DSS was involved with this family and using the excuse that an intern was assigned to this case as a reason for why this child was not protected by DSS is a cop out and a line of BS….”Social Services was involved with the family and received reports about neglect, but the case was assigned to an intern.”


Even an intern should know that children need beds and if there was none in the home, then something should have been done by DSS to help fix the problem…It should have been put in the case plan or the father should have been told in order for the children to remain with him, he would have to get them beds….Reports had been received for Neglect….Neglect by definition is the failure to provide needed care or needed necessities.


Furthermore…all DSS intern’s and Social Workers are supposed to run everything that they do by their supervisor, so why did the supervisor not make sure that this intern was doing their job as provided by law…


Yes the father is guilty in this case for not providing a safe sleeping environment for this child, but DSS is just as guilty for not doing the same when they were involved with this family. It was their job to ensure this child safety as well and again they dropped the ball. Now they are trying to blame their failure on inexperience…when in fact, it is a failure of not only the intern, but the supervisor and the multi-response team that they are supposed to have in place.

They never take responsibilty for their mistakes and wrong doing.


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