Protesters call for investigation into ‘corrupt’ Caldwell County DSS

Jan. 15, 2014 @ 12:43 PM

A handful of protesters gathered in Lenoir on Tuesday to call for an investigation into the operations of the Caldwell County Department of Social Services.

Waving signs that read “Stop stealing our kids” and “Family court destroys families for profit,” the protesters – around eight of them at mid-day – gathered outside the Caldwell County Human Services Building on Morganton Boulevard, which houses the Department of Social Services. They said they plan to protest Tuesday through Friday this week and next.

Tabatha Armer, who organized the protest, called the department’s child protective services division “corrupt” and said she believes children are being removed from the home for unfair reasons and on the basis of false allegations. Armer and several other protesters also said they were concerned child protective services has a profit motive for removing children from the home because they’d heard that staff members received bonuses based on the number of children placed in foster care.

Director of Social Services Joyce Edwards said in an interview that she couldn’t comment on specific cases, and she declined to comment on the protest as a whole. She said no staff members receive bonuses based on the number of children removed from their parents’ custody.

Armer’s three children were removed from her custody this summer. She said an investigation was prompted when her 14-year-old son snuck out of the home at 3 a.m. and overdosed on medication. Armer said she was accused of not supervising her children properly, but she believes that’s unfair because the incident happened in the early morning while she was sleeping.

“They need to investigate Caldwell County DSS and suspend their federal funding until an investigation is done,” she said.

Another protester, Trudy Mitchell, said she was investigated by child protective services after her son’s pediatrician reported her for medical neglect. Mitchell believes the report was made because the doctor wanted her son to have a surgery that, on the basis of a second opinion, she didn’t believe was medically necessary. The case was dropped after seven months, and Mitchell’s children were never removed from the home, she said.

“Child protective services is full of corruption,” Mitchell said. “They make up evidence and take your kids for no reason.”

Other protesters shared stories of friends who were investigated. Many brought up examples of parents they believed had been penalized for being poor or falling on hard times – stories of children being removed from the home because their parents were living in homeless shelters or one-bedroom apartments.  

“Why didn’t they give them a government apartment, then?” Mitchell said following one of those stories.

Many of the protesters were Armer’s friends or family, including Crystal Kincaid.

“My son’s best friends with her son and we miss him,” said Kincaid, as she waved her sign. “It’s not right. She’s a good mom.”