Child welfare advocates in Rockbridge are filing an appeal this week with the Virginia Department of Social Services, or DSS, following the state agency’s decision not to have local board members removed. Advocates say board members failed to address deep problems inside the Rockbridge Area Department of Social Services. WMRA’s Jessie Knadler has more.
Following a 10-month investigation, DSS concluded that while the Rockbridge agency board of directors fostered a hands-off approach to its duties, that approach is not sufficient to have them removed.
This follows two previous investigations that also looked at deep dysfunction within the Rockbridge agency. Specifically, a child protective supervisor who actively ignored, even shredded, reports of child abuse and neglect. One infant died.
Child welfare advocates Susan Lawrence and Mark Reed of Rockbridge petitioned the state agency. Lawrence says they are deeply concerned with its conclusions.
SUSAN LAWRENCE: It’s unbelievable to me that somebody can stick their head in the sand and the state board of social services would accept that as a defense.
Lawrence cites the Rockbridge board’s recent hiring of a new director that was quickly aborted after reports surfaced of the candidate’s questionable past.
LAWRENCE: All you had to do was Google it. A second grader could Google it.
Relatives of the infant who died under Rockbridge DSS’s watch are suing the local and state agencies for $17 million.