Editor’s note: This article is part 3 of the three-part investigative series Dodging Standards, which examines social services agencies hiring workers who don’t meet minimum standards, systemic challenges in hiring for these positions, how other states avoid these concerns and what North Carolina could do differently. This project was made possible in part through financial backing from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.
Any North Carolina county could hire a social services director who does not meet minimum qualifications when qualified applicants are ready and able to work, and the state can do nothing to prevent it.
If the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services discovers a director is not qualified, the agency may step in with policy guidance, training suggestions and evaluations — but it cannot remove an unqualified director.
The Office of State Human Resources, which oversees recruitment and hiring for the state’s workforce, cannot remove unqualified directors — or prevent their hire — either.
But hiring an unqualified director when a qualified candidate is able and willing to work wouldn’t even be an option in several other states that share North Carolina’s state-supervised, county-administered system, according to responses to a Carolina Public Press survey of several states.
Just look north of the state line, to Virginia.