By Paige Williams
Kay Wrenn started her work as Rockbridge Department of Social Services interim director on Monday.
Wrenn, 63, retired from the Alleghany-Covington Department of Social Services in 2016 after 33 years of service. She had been working part time for Rockbridge DSS before her appointment.
Wrenn is replacing outgoing Director Suzanne Adcock, who has accepted a job as director of finance in Alleghany County.
Rockbridge DSS Board Chair Duaine Fitzgerald said the board believes her familiarity with the agency is important during the transition.
“We are excited to have Kay as our interim director,” he said. “She brings a great deal of experience to the department.”
Wrenn is taking the helm of a troubled organization whose board of directors is still under an investigation launched in October by the Virginia DSS.
In 2017, a Rockbridge County grand jury revealed severe mismanagement and negligence in the Rockbridge DSS division. The grand jury declined to charge anyone, but said that former Supervisor Brenda Perry intentionally mishandled reports of abuse and shredded records.
In its 36-page report, the grand jury said the “gross negligence, dysfunctional dynamic and rank incompetence that existed” at Rockbridge DSS did not meet criminal standards. Instead, it made over 70 recommendations.
Adcock said she has implemented almost all of the changes the grand jury recommended, which included better accountability and record-keeping.
Since the report was released, the number of abuse cases recorded in the DSS system has more than doubled. In 2016, the Virginia DSS reported that 299 cases were entered into the Child Protective Services system. A year later, that number increased to 667.
To address staffing issues, Adcock also hired an additional child protective services investigator. The agency is also looking to expand into a new space to accommodate new hires.
“We are not exactly where we need to be,” she said.
Fitzgerald said he is pleased with the progress the agency has made since 2016.
“The [DSS] culture has changed a great deal,” he said.