Local News

State Wants to Do More to Protect Children

Posted July 15, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

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

Social workers say their goal is family reunification. For years these buzz words have meant that kids stay with their biological parents except in extreme situations. But the governor wants to change the focus of the system. 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 grandson Justice away from her daughter Stacey.

Askew believes a child should be with its biological mother. She disagrees with a state plan giving the state more power to remove children from their biological families.

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

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

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

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

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

andKerrie Hudzinski