Lawmaker outraged at DSS, examines policy

By Anthony Gonzalez agonzalez@civitasmedia.com

February 21, 2014

A state lawmaker expressed outraged after learning of a report that minors already victims of a sexual abuse case in Wilkes County were allegedly subjected to additional sexual abuse in Yadkin County, after being placed in the home of a convicted child abuser by social workers.

“We are concerned. We recognize that there is problem going on and we have to address this. We have to look at where did the breakdown occur?” said Rep. Sarah Stevens (Surry, Wilkes). “I expect changes to policies at the highest level.”

Details emerged showing the Wilkes County Department of Social Services officials removed four kids from the home of a father, Troy Wagoner, who had admitted to sexually molesting his two girls. Wagoner was sentenced last week in a Wilkes County courtroom. Wilkes County DSS placed the children into the home of Randy Galyean knowing Galyean’s wife, Tammy Galyean, had prior convictions for child abuse in Surry County.

Both Randy and Tammy Galyean are in police custody and await trial on sex charges relating to the children.

Two of the children contracted a sexually transmitted disease during their time in the foster home, according to a Yadkin County warrant for arrest for Tammy Galyean.

Stevens is the General Assembly’s co-chair of the Committee on Onmibus Foster Care and Dependency. State Sen. Shirley Randleman (Surry, Stokes, Wilkes) is the co-chair for the Senate. The committee held a session on Wednesday morning in Raleigh examining a recent abuse case by DSS in Union County.

“What were discovering and looking at is that each county runs its own DSS and establishes certain policies and the state only serves in a supervisory capacity,” said Stevens.

Stevens said out-of-county placements of children are horrible, such as what happened to the Wilkes County kids. Out-of-state placements are a challenge too, she said.

“A contract is needed with the receiving county (or state) that they are going to follow them (the children) or the sending county has to follow them themselves. This is obviously where the breakdown occurs.”

The breakdown relates to background checks, home visits, departmental policies, and other co-factors.

Stevens said officials on the committee are trying to determine from a constitutional standpoint if a uniform system can apply to all counties relating to placements so that these types of things don’t happen again.

“Yesterday we were getting a little bit of runaround (from DSS) on confidentiality rules and personnel rules, as well as law enforcement. We understand the need for all of these privacy laws and policies, but we don’t want to see anyone hide behind those policies either,” said Stevens, “and that’s what’s happening.”

Anthony Gonzalez may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @newsgonz.