Usually, what happens in Nash County – a county in eastern North Carolina with about 100,000 people that’s a pass-through zone on the way to the Outer Banks – doesn’t even register on Guilford County’s radar.

However, a Monday, Sept. 11 decision by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) regarding Nash County registered a very big blip on the radar of Guilford County Division of Social Services.

The biggest insult the State of North Carolina can make to any county department is to come in and take it over due to a lack of confidence.  On Sept. 11, NCDHHS announced that it was doing just that with the Nash County Child Welfare Division of the Social Services Department, effective immediately.

Like Nash County, Guilford County’s social services operations have been under the extreme scrutiny of state social services officials due to the deaths of children who were being overseen by social service workers.

In February 2023, NCDHHS became aware of a child fatality in Nash County and, after investigating, the Nash County Department of Social Services was placed on a corrective action plan – as Guilford County has also been – due to inadequate supervision of the children in its care. In August 2023, NCDHHS followed up and found that Nash County DSS continued to leave children unprotected.

NCDHHS determined that Nash County wasn’t providing child welfare services “in accordance with law, rule and policy, and found further, the failure to provide these services poses a substantial threat to the safety and welfare of children in Nash County.”

NCDHHS announced that, therefore, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, it was assuming direct operation of the child welfare services in that county.

“When NCDHHS assumes operations, the Nash County DSS Director shall be divested of her service delivery powers under [NC General Statutes] and all other powers under state law that pertain to child welfare services,” the September 11 announcement from NCDHHS reads.

The violations of Nash County were similar to those in Guilford County – except Guilford County had multiple child fatalities, not just one. So, the state may be even more willing to take over Guilford County’s Child Welfare Services if state officials don’t like what they see. The actual takeover of operations in Nash County shows that  the state is willing to follow up the threats with action.

 As in the case of Nash County, state investigators found a slew of alarming violations by Guilford County child welfare workers.

In December of last year, a fire at a home on Grimsley Street in Greensboro led to the deaths of a 3-year-old and a set of 1-year-old twins who were all being overseen by the Guilford County social services staff. In mid-March another house fire – on Glenside Drive in Greensboro – killed a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old.  Those children were also being “protected” by county social services workers.

In spring, NCDHHS, after an extensive investigation, sent a scathing letter to Guilford County officials putting Guilford County on a similar state of probation as that of Nash County.