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Study: Foster care up 82% in Randolph since 2016

ASHEBORO — The results of a study on how to reduce the rising trend of children in foster care in Randolph County was presented to the Board of County Commissioner on Nov. 7. 


The assessment was funded by the commissioners for the Children’s Home Society of North Carolina through its Institute for Family to study trends around family well-being and provide insights on how to reduce the rising pattern of kids in foster care. The presentation was given by Donna Wood of Children’s Home Society.


Wood said Randolph County’s child welfare rates are higher than North Carolina as a whole. “Foster care has grown by 82 percent in Randolph County since 2016,” she said.


The process included an analysis of population health and DSS data, an environmental scan of assets and opportunities, interviews with 81 caregivers and 19 community influencers, and media analysis of stories about child maltreatment. 

It was determined that families are overburdened, particularly with transportation and meeting basic needs. For example, the cost of childcare increased by 78 percent between fiscal year 2017 and fiscal year 2021. 


At the same time, the feeling was that residents can come together to change the pattern.


The study made the following recommendations:

1. Enhance relationships between overburdened caregivers and decision makers.

2. Expand the shared decision-making processes.

3. Invest in addressing the economic hardships.

4. Shift investments more upstream to prevent children from entering the welfare system.

5. Assess history to identify how past policies are linked to conditions.

6. Prioritize resources.

7. Support digitization of Department of Social Services (DSS) data to increase efficiency.

8. Build community awareness about factors that overburden families and how the community can help.


Wood said a community breakfast will be held on the topic on Wednesday, Dec. 7, from 7:30-9 a.m. at the Randolph County Senior Adults Association.


In other business …


RCSO to add four officers, purchase 15 vehicles

Commissioners approved requests from the Sheriff’s Office to add four new deputies and purchase 15 vehicles.


The four deputies will be hired as school resource officers (SROs) to serve in the elementary schools of the Randolph County School System. They will be divided into four zones and serve the elementary schools in their zones.


Cost of the four positions as well as vehicles and equipment was said to be $384,004 between January and June, with the school system contributing $119,007.  


The 15 Sheriff’s Office vehicles include 10 Dodge Chargers and five Ford Police Interceptors. Total cost is $585,745, which is included in the agency’s 2022-23 budget.


Commissioners OK property purchase for pump station

Commissioners gave the OK to purchase of property at the future I-74 Industrial Park in Sophia.


According to County Engineer Paxton Arthurs, the purchase of approximately 2.5 acres was necessary for the location of a pump station for sewer service. He said it was originally anticipated that only one-fourth of an acre was needed, but the property is in a critical watershed and the extra acreage will meet impervious surface requirements. 


The property owners have agreed to sell the site to the county for $76,398.


Bid accepted for library radio frequency ID

Commissioners voted to accept a bid by MK Solutions, Inc., to implement radio frequency identification for the Randolph County Public Library. The low bid of three turned in is for $125,875 and two-year maintenance costs of $4,955.


Library Director Ross Holt said the RFID will streamline the library system and allow patrons self checkout. The project is funded by a federal Library Services and Technology Act grant and a local match. 


Holt said the low bid was $15,450 over the amount available in the grant and local match but the difference can be made up using funds from a one-time state distribution.


Great Oak Landfill receives 3,000 tons of waste per day

Commissioners heard the annual report from Bob Peeler of Waste Management, which oversees the Great Oak Landfill.


Peeler said his company has contributed nearly $13 million to Randolph County since 2014. Waste Management has also paid the state more than $5.7 million in solid waste taxes.


He said Great Oak Landfill receives some 3,000 tons of waste per day. Waste Management also operates the county’s six solid waste convenience sites. An advisory board of local citizens meets regularly.


Other business

Commissioners also:

- Approved a budget amendment to accept state appropriations for public services appropriations totaling $500,000. NC Sen. Dave Craven read the list of appropriations to 16 agencies and a number of municipal and volunteer fire departments.

- Acknowledged Randolph County’s award as one of the 100 Healthiest Workplaces in America. Randolph was ranked 14th.

Sam Varner, county wellness officer, said the key to a healthy workforce “is relationships. (Employees) are our most valuable resource. The team … makes it work.”

- Held a public hearing on the proposed schedules, standards and rules for the 2023 property reappraisal.

- Set the annual meeting with the Asheboro City Schools Board of Education for Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. The location is to be determined.

- Honored recipients of the Governor’s Volunteers of the Year. They were:

— Phil Brown (posthumously) of Randolph County Senior Adults.

— Annika Bestmann of Spirit Horse Ranch Rescue and Education.

— Deborah Knapp of Randolph Health Volunteers Services.

— Kyle Martin of Disabled American Veterans.

— Kenita Matthews and Joanne Bostic of Our Daily Bread.

— Drew Maerz of the Boys Scouts of America.

— Sandra Lail of the Randolph-Asheboro YMCA.