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Girl was molested while in foster care

By Kathy Chaffin and Shavonne Potts
kchaffin@salisburypost.com
One of three girls molested by a South Carolina man who killed himself after being charged with seven sex crimes involving children was in foster care at the time the offenses allegedly occurred, according to her grandmother.
The grandmother, who is not being named to protect the identity of the girl, called the Post with the information. The girl has since been removed from the foster home and placed with other relatives.
Larry Maynard Clark, 62, of Chester, S.C., knew the victims, all of whom were under the age of 13, according to investigators with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office. The youngest victim was 6.
Clark ó who was charged with three counts of first-degree sex offense with a child and four counts of taking indecent liberties with a child ó shot himself after being released from the Rowan County Detention Center on $20,000 secured bond. He was found dead at his South Carolina home April 18.
Rowan County District Court Judge Charlie Brown presided over a May 21 hearing on custody of the girl. The hearing was closed to the public and Brown said he could not discuss details of the hearing or any corrective action included in his ruling.
Sandra Wilkes, Social Services director, said she could not disclose information about “any foster care or child protective services case, including the details of a judge’s order in a hearing that is closed to the public.”
She said, however, that she could share some information about how people become licensed as foster parents.
“In general, there is an initial interview with those who have expressed an interest in becoming licensed foster parents,” Wilkes said. “This interview may result in screening out unsuitable applicants. Criminal records checks are also conducted early in the foster parent recruitment process. These checks also screen out those who are unsuitable.”
Potential foster parents complete questionnaires, she said, and those who are not screened out are invited to participate in a 10-week foster parenting course held at the Department of Social Services. Completion of the course is required for licensure as foster parents.
Throughout this process,” Wilkes said, “the DSS Placement Team ó DSS director, children’s services program administrator, supervisors and social workers ó gives input and directions and makes recommendations regarding submitting applicants to the state for licensure.”
The material used in the course comes from the N.C. Division of Social Services, she said. However, Rowan Social Services has added information through the years. The department added a section on Internet safety for children and is in the process of adding information about safe sleeping and crib safety, along with guidelines for choosing respite care providers.
“As situations occur,” Wilkes said, “they are opportunities to make certain any gaps in our procedures are filled.”
Anytime there is a report of abuse in a foster home, she said, an administrative team comprised of the Social Services director, program administrators and attorney jointly reviews the situation to ensure the child’s needs for safety and protection are met, that the issues in the foster home are addressed and that information is shared appropriately and in a timely way with law enforcement.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-7683.

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