Start of N Carolina child services overhaul given final OK

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The General Assembly has agreed to start overhauling North Carolina’s child welfare and social services system to encourage more regional oversight and correct problems identified in a recent federal review.

The House voted Wednesday to accept changes approved by the Senate, sending the bill to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.

The measure would create a working group of experts and organizational leaders to make recommendations, including how to improve collaboration and accountability. The measure would allow counties to combine social services departments but doesn’t mandate consolidation.

The bill also requires a social worker to observe a child who’s been removed from a home at least twice with his or her parent before recommending a return of physical custody. This proposal follows the death of a Moore County toddler.