State takes control of Nash Co DSS, says agency poses 'substantial threat' to children's safety

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BySamantha Kummerer WTVD logo
Monday, September 11, 2023
State takes control of Nash Co. DSS after girl's death
North Carolina officials said the Nash County DSS has been slow to respond in critical situations.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The North Carolina Department of Human Services (NCDHHS) announced it would temporarily take over control of the Nash County Department of Social Services (DSS).

State health leaders stated the DSS office is failing to provide services according to the law, which "poses a substantial threat to the safety and welfare of children in Nash County."

The state has investigated the county since February when a child died while social workers were investigating abuse allegations. Nash County DSS received reports of suspected child abuse but did not remove Christal Lane from her home. Two months later, she died and her grandmother was charged with murder.

After Lane's death, NCDHHS found Nash County DSS did fail to follow policy in Lane's case and violated policies in nearly two dozen other cases.

The state has been working with Nash County for months to help the office start to correct some of the violations and work on some of the state's recommendations. NCDHHS said the county has not made progress in addressing those concerns.

NCDHHS leaders sent Nash Co. DSS a letter on Sept. 11 that stated, "Concerns about safety planning have continued, creating a substantial risk to children, and have led to children being harmed."

The county was given an enhanced plan by NCDHHS in August, "due to a near fatality and several serious abuse cases where Nash County DSS' lack of thorough safety planning and strong decision-making continued to leave children unprotected."

The state credited the county with contracting for additional resources but said it still doesn't have what it needs to "address significant deficiencies in the provision of protective services to children." The state also said Nash County has been slow to respond in critical situations.

NCDHHS will be in Nash County starting on September 12 but it is unclear how long the state will maintain control of the DSS office.

"We have a shared mission to better protect and serve children involved in the Nash County child welfare system," Nash County Manager Stacie Shatzer said in a press release. "We support the state in this temporary action to make sure children in Nash County are safe, and we welcome the additional support and training our staff will receive through this process."

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A Nash County grandmother has been charged with murder in the death of her 8-year-old granddaughter late Tuesday evening.