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State Wants to Do More to Protect Children

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RALEIGH — It's hard to imagine a parent killing his orher own child, but it's already happened six times this year in NorthCarolina. Governor Hunt is working on a plan aimed at protecting abused children, but some families say what it will really do is tear familiesapart.

Social workers say their goal is family reunification. For years thesebuzz words have meant that kids stay with their biological parents exceptin extreme situations. But the governor wants to change the focus of thesystem. He says we can't assume a child is safe at home any more.

Terry Askew says she was devastated when the state took her grandsonJustice away from her daughter Stacey.

Askew believes a child should be with its biological mother. Shedisagrees with a state plan giving the state more power to remove childrenfrom their biological families.

But when 2-year-old Demallon Krider died from abuse at a Rowan Countyapartment after being returned to his mother the governor decided thestate needs to do more to protect abused children.

Department of Human Resources representative Debbie Crane says statutorychanges are needed to balance things so that safety and permanence is partof the big picture.

The Department of Human Resources says child protective workers areoverburdened. To change this, they want to add staff and increasetraining. Crane says a normal caseload is supposed to be one worker to 12cases. In Krider's case, the ratio was 1 to 46.

The plan would involve adding 370 social workers and giving them 63hours of training. Currently no training is required for the first year.

The plan is expected to be finalized Friday and would have to beapproved by the General Assembly. It's expected to cost more than $20 million.

andKerrieHudzinski

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