The protection of minor children from physical harm and mental abuse is the obligation of both individuals and government in a civilized society. For most of our nation’s history, children were shielded from harm by family members, church communities, and governmental entities when actual laws were broken. As these issues grew more complicated, along with the complexity of society itself, their resolution became too difficult for untrained family members to achieve, regardless of their good intentions.
Into this void stepped government bureaucrats creating agencies to write laws and rules to take over the care and welfare of at-risk minors. As with so many governmental programs, the regulations are confusing and complicated with redundancies, ambiguities, split responsibilities, overwhelming paperwork, reporting and training requirements, and funding quagmires. The current problems in Cherokee County are the result of this statutory relationship between The State of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Cherokee County Department of Social Services (DSS).
In the winter of 2018, it became apparent that the Cherokee County DSS had, for the past decade, been using a unique written agreement to remove abused children from the custody of their natural parents and place them in the custodial homes of others, often related family members. These “Custody and Visitation Agreements,” known now as CVAs, successfully moved children to safe environments but lacked the judicial approval required to make them legal.
Once this became public knowledge, the county’s DSS was taken over by the state DHHS to rectify the situation, which allowed a thorough examination of the system that allowed the illegal CVAs to be used. It became apparent that DHHS had failed for over a decade to perform the training and oversight required by state statute that could have prevented this problem.
The Cherokee County Commission undertook the resolution of these issues. Their actions involved taking direct control of DSS by disbanding the DSS Board and by hiring an excellent well-qualified Director of DSS and a full-time extremely competent DSS Attorney.
Dr. Dan’s guest on Freedom Forum Radio this weekend is Cherokee County Department of Social Services Director Amanda McGee and DSS Attorney Andria Duncan.
Topics will include:
• Overview of the Custody and Visitation Agreement Issues
• Misinformation by the media and the press about Cherokee County DSS
• Failure of DHHS to provide required training and oversight
• Successful resolution of training and performance issues at DSS
• Strategic Direction going forward
• Constitutional Due Process requirements and the protection of minor children
Episode one of this three-part interview begins this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, March 7-8, on WJRB 95.1 FM and streamed live over the Internet.
All programs are available by podcast following airtime here.