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NC9 obtains emails explaining changes at Cherokee Co. Department of Social Services

This March 14, 2018 photo shows the Cherokee County Department of Social Services in Murphy, N.C. An Associated Press investigation has found that the child protective services agency in western North Carolina illegally removed potentially hundreds of children from their homes. Those same children are now facing the possibility of being uprooted again because the child protective service used private custody agreements, without court approval, to place children in new homes, usually with relatives. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

After an open records request from NewsChannel 9 to Cherokee County, North Carolina, we obtained a copy of an email that explains there is a new acting Child Welfare Administrator for the county and that the roles of Supervisor David Hughes and two other workers have changed. This comes after accusations that child-welfare workers illegally removed children from homes.

The email reads:

Good morning. This is Bob Cochran, acting Child Welfare Administrator in Cherokee County.

Starting immediately, all information relating to any child welfare matters that would normally be communicated to David Hughes and/or Clesia Wells should instead be given to Lyn Osteen and/or Brian Vogle. As you know, Lyn is now supervising foster care, adoptions and licensing and Brian is supervising intake, assessments and in-home services. Intake matters that would normally be shared with Bebeie McClure should now be taken to Brian Vogl. Matters dealing with leave, time cards, daysheets, on-call scheduling, etc. are included in this directive as well.

If Mr. Vogle or Ms. Osteen cannot be located, pertinent information should be brought to me.

If information can wait and be addressed at regular staffings, then that’s what should happen. If it is urgent, then staff should bring it directly to Brian, Lyn or myself.

Please know, this is very important and no exceptions are to be made.

Thank you for your cooperation and please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

The email was sent on March 20, four days after the AP reported that the state would take over the DSS office in Cherokee County.

Cherokee County manager Randy Wiggins says Director Cindy Palmer and Supervisor David Hughes are both still employed by DSS.

Just last week, we confirmed the state bureau of investigation is now looking into Cherokee County DSS.

The state has now taken over the Department of Social Services.

Former attorney Scott Lindsay and Director Cindy Palmer are both named in a lawsuit filed by a Cherokee County father against the county.

Related stories:

Cherokee County, N.C. man says he was tricked into signing over custody of daughter

N.C. SBI now investigating Cherokee County Dept. of Social Services

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