Social services in NC may be in the hands of people who don’t meet minimum qualifications. Why and how it happens, and how other states avoid the problem.
Local social services agencies in North Carolina have vast authority over the lives of families, children, people with disabilities and others. State rules set clear minimal standards for social workers and social services directors, but state agencies can’t prevent counties from hiring unqualified people. In at least one case, an unqualified agency director later admitted to a work-related felony while workers in her office unlawfully separated children from their families. Counties struggle to recruit and retain qualified workers in part due to pay inequities between counties. But other states avoid these problems with different approaches.
Dodging Standards is a three-part investigative series from Carolina Public Press, being published daily beginning March 28, 2022. The series was made possible in part with support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, a national foundation that supports the investigative reporting efforts of independent journalists and news organizations, and through the support of readers like you. You can support nonpartisan in-depth and investigative journalism in North Carolina from our nonprofit newsroom by becoming a member today.
This series is produced by the news team of Carolina Public Press
Reporting by Kate Martin
Photos by Alicia Carter, Colby Rabon and Frank Taylor
Illustration by Brittain Peck
Graphics by Anna Deen
Photo and Graphics Editing by Laura Lee
Project Editing by Frank Taylor