DSS checked on boy twice prior to his death, documents say

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Department of Social Services workers went to a 2-year-old boy's home twice for reports of possible abuse in the weeks leading up to his death, according to documents.

The boyfriend of the child's mother, Christopher Sims of Charlotte, is facing murder charges in his death.

(Sims)

There is now an investigation to find out if the situation was handled correctly.

Andrew Oliver is the executive director for Pat's Place, a child advocacy group that helps children who have been abused.

ARTICLE: Man charged with murdering girlfriend's 2-year-old son

"Kids cannot be expected to speak up for themselves,” Oliver said. “A lot of kids can't make a report of abuse."

The two-year-old, A'dan Blackmon, couldn't speak up for himself.

Sims hurt him so badly, he couldn't breathe on his own before he died two weeks ago, police said.

"It's a wake-up call to all of us that we have to do a better job," Oliver said.

DSS reports show the first time they checked on A'dan, he was in the hospital in April.

His mother told doctors he fell off his bed, according to DSS.

The seriousness of his injuries led them to run a series of other tests, but the results didn't prove he was abused, DSS officials said.

Two weeks later, possible abuse was reported again.

A'dan's caseworker said he only found old bruises that appeared to be from the last time he was in the hospital.

Less than a month after DSS decided A'dan wasn't in any danger, police said the man supposed to be caring for the boy killed him.

"I would encourage all adults to report all abuse if they suspect it, or they know it's happening, and if they feel like the case hasn't been properly addressed to make a second report or a third report," Oliver said.

While the attorney general is investigating to see if any charges should be filed, DSS is conducting their own review to see if their policies were followed properly.

Channel 9 asked the county if DSS missed any signs that could have saved the boy.

They said that answer could take two years to find out because their investigators are dealing with a backlog in other cases.

An audit of Mecklenburg County DSS showed children were left in dangerous situations.

In some cases between 2013 and 2015, the internal audit found workers didn't tell law enforcement when they discovered abuse.

Officials told Channel 9 the department has taken action to fix those issues since the audit was done.