Gaston County - Homegrown Tools

Gaston County, NC

Updated: 2022

Leadership in Gaston County noticed that reports of child abuse significantly decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The assistant county manager gathered community stakeholders to address process improvements for reporting to ensure the wellbeing of children and families.

Population2020 222,119
Median Household Income2020$53,474
Poverty Rate 202013.6%
Proximity to Urban Center 26 miles to Charlotte, NC
Proximity to Interstate Highway 6 miles to I-85
Case Study Time Frame 2020
Municipal Budget FY2021222 million
Data Source: US Census, American Community Survey
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Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Gaston County observed a drastic decrease in the number of reports of suspected child abuse. Teachers play an important role in reporting cases of child abuse. As COVID-19 forced education online, teachers could no longer make determinations about child abuse in the classroom. The state of North Carolina as a whole saw an 80% decrease in reporting from educators during the period of March through June of 2020.



To address this decline in reports, Gaston County worked with the data consultant BrightHive to develop new reporting processes for the pandemic and beyond. BrightHive provides a platform that enables data collaboratives between multiple agencies through one site. This platform will allow data sharing between agencies throughout the county and enable the county to train more community stakeholders to report suspected child abuse.



What are the lessons learned from this story?


Times of crisis can be an opportunity to address underlying issues. Communities are only as resilient as their most vulnerable populations. Disasters, and the way they are handled, expose underlying vulnerabilities already present in a community. The recovery process can be an opportunity to make fundamental changes to address these vulnerabilities and strengthen community resilience over the long term.


Data collaboration and streamlining can improve processes across organizations. Within local government there are many tasks that inherently require collaboration across different departments, organizations and jurisdictions. Taking a global look at what data different stakeholders have, where it is stored, and how it is used can increase efficiency, generate new insights, and improve outcomes.