Union Co. commissioners want to take over DSS oversight

by: Kathryn Burcham Updated:

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UNION COUNTY, N.C. —

A Union County commissioner is calling for the removal of the advisory board that oversees Department of Social Services in the wake of a worker's arrest for child abuse.

Monday, Commissioner Jonathan Thomas told Eyewitness News he is informing the Union County Consolidated Human Services Board he wants to dissolve the board and put oversight powers under the Union County Commissioners' purview.

"I don't think at this point you can blame any particular person or entity for what has happened; the only thing we can do at this point is ensure it's not going happen again," Thomas said.

The 17-member board, made up of private citizens, physicians and social workers, has mostly played an advisory role to both DSS and county officials.

Thomas will bring the proposal to a vote before the commissioners at next Monday's meeting.

The push for change comes after Wanda Larson, a DSS supervisor in the Child Protective Services Unit, was arrested earlier this month on neglect and abuse charges.

Investigators said Larson and her longtime partner handcuffed their 11-year-old son to their front porch and tied a dead chicken around his neck.

Detectives said there were filthy conditions inside the home, and all five of the couple's children have been removed from the home and placed in protective custody in Davidson County.

Authorities have said a deputy previously filed a complaint with DSS regarding the same child found handcuffed to the porch, but investigators said a worker in Larson's DSS department determined the complaint was not worth investigating.

Thomas said when the Human Services Board is dissolved, county commissioners will take over its role and have the power to hire and fire DSS employees directly.

"We are not going be turning a blind eye to any concerns," Thomas said.

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