Active investigation continues of Youth Empowerment failure to report child abuse

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, NC — The Forest City Police Department (FCPD) is investigating a Department of Social Services (DSS) complaint of unreported child abuse that allegedly occurred at Youth Empowerment, Inc. This case involves a 14 year-old female who reported child abuse to an employee of Youth Empowerment, Inc. When this information was not reported to DSS in turn as required, a complaint was made on June 13, 2018 to FCPD. The incident occurred months before the date of discovery by the Board of Directors.

Everyone has a duty to report in cases where there is suspected child abuse and/or neglect by a parent, guardian, custodian or caretaker.  There are laws in NC that require that a report be made.

NCGS 7B-301(b) states that Any person or institution who knowingly or wantonly fails to report the case of a juvenile as required by subsection (a) of this section, or who knowingly or wantonly prevents another person from making a report as required by subsection (a) of this section, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. This law came into effect in October 2013.

In regards to neglected or abused children, the standard of knowledge is “any cause to suspect that any juvenile is abused, neglected or dependent”.

Reports are required to be made to the Director of the County Department of Social Services in the county in which the child resides. Reports may be made orally or in writing.

Youth Empowerment, Inc., located in Forest City, served young people between the ages of 10 and 17. Its mission was to provide guidance, support, and life-skills for the youth and families of Rutherford County. The organization was also contracted to provide meals for children and adults during the months schools are not in session.

The organization is no longer in operation. The Board of Directors are reviewing records, finances, and materials in support of this and state investigations.