Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Shavonne Potts
Salisbury Post
The Rowan County Department of Social Services wants to make sure that language won’t be a barrier when investigators answer after-hours calls.
The answer lies with the Law Enforcement Protocol Committee of the Rowan County Task Force for Child Abuse Prevention.
The group met Tuesday in the Stanback room of the Rowan Public Library to discuss how to reach an interpreter after hours for child protective services investigations.
The issue came up at the last meeting after an incident in which an interpreter wasn’t readily available after regular business hours.
Department of Social Services Director Sandra Wilkes said the agency employs a Spanish-speaking interpreter 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, along with a couple of bilingual employees.
“We will have to contract with an interpreter, just for after-hours. It will be someone who we can call immediately,” she said.
Wilkes said the agency will most likely contract with an interpreter with whom it already has worked. Officials hope to begin their search this week, she said.
There is money in the budget to hire an interpreter.
The committee also discussed law enforcement presence when Social Services personnel conduct a family assessment.
China Grove Police Chief Hodge Coffield, who attended the meeting, said his department, while short on investigators, could have a patrol officer investigate the suspected abuse. Kannapolis Police Sgt. Ken Jackson said if an investigator isn’t readily available in his department’s jurisdiction, a patrol officer could handle the situation.
When Social Services suspects a child is being abused, the agency and law enforcement, who would file criminal charges if needed, are sent to the home or hospital to investigate.
The task force was created in 1997 by the Rowan County Board of Commissioners to examine the existing abuse prevention network, find problems within or outside the existing structure and create solutions to problems.
The committee typically meets monthly, but the next meeting will be May 20 at 9:30 a.m. at the Rowan Public Library.
Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253 or