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Abducted infant now doing well

By Kathy Chaffin
kchaffin@salisburypost.com
The infant recovered two months after being abducted by his mother while in legal custody of the Rowan County Department of Social Services just celebrated his first birthday in his new foster home.
Micah Melton, foster care supervisor for the department, told Community Child Protection Team members at their quarterly meeting Tuesday that William Perry had suffered from developmental delays that prevented him from crawling when he was abducted at 10 months of age. Now that he’s receiving therapy from occupational and physical therapists, she said he’s not only crawling but is able to hold onto objects and pull himself up.
“He’s progressing very well,” she said, “and we’re really very pleased with this case now.”
The infant had been in foster care and was in the home of his mother on a trial basis when she disappeared with him on Feb. 26, violating her arrangement with Social Services.
William Perry was located in Chester, S.C., the second week of April after Social Services learned that his mother was using her electronic food stamp card on purchases at grocery stories there. Salisbury police confirmed a street address, and Chester County Social Services officials picked up the infant at that location and held him in their offices until Melton arrived to pick him up and bring him back to Rowan.
Melton said the infant’s mother is now in custody in the Rowan County Detention Center.
Team Chairman Jeff Morris, a Salisbury attorney, added, however, that she is not being held on kidnapping charges.
Social Services received a lot of support on the abduction case from Community Child Protection Team members, other agencies and the community at large, Melton said. A response plan developed for Social Services to follow in the event a child in the department’s custody is abducted again was distributed for team members to review at the meeting.
“A child’s safety takes priority over confidentiality,” the plan states at the onset. The 10 recommendations included in the plan are as follows:
– The case record should contain a picture of the child and caregiver; identifying information on the child such as height, weight, scars; and special medical needs of the child.
Melton said this is especially important with infants and small children because they change so quickly. This could be done in a non-invasive way, she said, by taking photos of caregivers and children together on a regular basis.
“People want pictures of themselves with their babies,” she said.
– As soon as it is learned that a child is missing, convene a Response Team meeting with Social Services director, program administrator and other significant employees to review response plan.
– Immediately send an alert with identifying information, including picture, to newspapers; TV stations, including Access 16; Social Services and health department list servers; other agencies as appropriate (probation office, Housing Authority, etc.); and the N.C. Center for Missing Children and the National Center for Missing Children.
A press release about the abduction and a photo of the infant was sent to the Salisbury Post and area television stations along with information on who to contact with information about his whereabouts. The N.C. Center for Missing Children was also alerted.
– Alert law enforcement and request an Amber Alert if appropriate.
– Determine if family is receiving Medicaid, Work First, Food Assistance, day care subsidy, etc., through Rowan County Department of Social Services and instruct caseworkers on how to respond if they have contact with child or caretaker.
– Initiate proceedings to secure warrant for arrest of caregiver.
– Contact landlord, employer and others who may have contact with the caregiver. Instruct on how to respond if these individuals have contact with child or caregiver.
– Have a plan in place for the child when found (medical attention, placement, etc.).
Melton said gaps in medical care that may occur during the abduction is an important area to address.
– Terminate alerts when child is found.
– Convene a Response Team meeting to summarize events leading to child’s return and to develop plan to reduce risks of another abduction.
The Community Child Protection Team will meet again on Tuesday, Sept. 1. Composed of agency representatives, child advocates and citizens-at-large, the mission of the team is “to identify and address gaps or deficiencies in services and resources through the annual report to the Board of County Commissioners, collaboration with community partners promoting public awareness and advocating for action that addresses the child protection needs of each county.”
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-7683.

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