Union DSS fills top child welfare services job

Union County’s Department of Social Services has named a state DSS official to be its top child welfare services administrator.

The agency said Friday it hired Patrick Betancourt as social work program administrator. He has 22 years of child welfare experience and is the child welfare policy administrator for the state.

In Union County, he will oversee child protective services, foster care, adoption and group homes.

The agency has been undergoing a major reorganization since last November’s arrest of a former supervisor on child abuse charges. Wanda Larson was fired after an 11-year-old boy that she was the guardian of was found handcuffed to her Monroe-area home with a dead chicken tied to his neck.

In unrelated circumstances, the county has fired five other employees this year, including the woman whom Betancourt replaced.

Richard Matens, who runs the county Department of Human Services, which includes DSS, said he was excited to get someone with Betancourt’s experience to join the agency.