SC DSS: NOT protecting our state's children - Is anyone surprised?


The recent shot taken at the DSS by the S.C. Policy Council wasn't the first critical look taken at the agency, nor will it likely be the last:

The S.C. Department of Social Services failed to meet all seven federal benchmarks measuring the agency’s ability to serve abused and neglected children, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report.

A longtime Columbia children’s law attorney who was interviewed for the federal study called the results "pretty significant."

"They (DSS) have a real hard time identifying the kids and families who truly need intervention, and the kids and their parents who could be left alone or left alone with some basic services," attorney Jay Elliott told The Nerve when contacted last week.

Concerns that the agency is failing to protect the state's children are widespread, while the agency often opts to wield a heavy hand to become an accomplice to those seeking to use the agency as a tool of revenge or to conduct costly "fishing expeditions" on behalf of parties involved in ongoing domestic court cases.


This isn't the first time the Blogland has voiced concerns about how that agency is being run:


In the early 1990s, when yours truly went through a series of court hearings over custody of my daughter, I found that shortly after many of the hearings in which a judge would uphold my having custody of my daughter, I'd be contacted by DSS. Their purpose: to investigate yet another anonymous complaint which had been filed against me.

This is an experience which many South Carolinians are familiar with. While the agency seems quite adept at harassing and threatening families over anonymous complaints, they often fail to protect children from actual cases of abuse.

The Blogland hears often from those who've been subjected to such harassment. The worst instance was a co-worker who was the target of seven investigations in six years as a result of anonymous complaints, all of which resulted in no findings of abuse. He has spent several thousand dollars on legal representiation on these complaints and has custody of his daughter, whose mother has been repeatedly institutionalized and is only allowed supervised visitation.

In spite of a series of findings of no harm, the agency escalates the intensity of its response to each new complaint, removing his daughter from the home each time. While medical examinations have shown no harm, concerns have been raised about the emotional trauma inflicted by the agency's actions, causing the child to regularly fear been taken away from the only parent she has in her life.

If instances like these, along with the report findings, are representative of how poorly the agency carries out its mission, it is hard to see how children would be any worse off if the agency was shut down.

Those with their own stories of DSS abuse are encouraged to contact the Blogland. Reportees will be kept confidential.

14 Response to "SC DSS: NOT protecting our state's children - Is anyone surprised?"

  1. Calhoun Fawls 27/4/10 23:48
    DSS is out of control. I know of a case in which DSS wants to be a child back in her mother's home after the mother's boyfriend beat the child black and blue. DSS's explanation: the boyfriend promises not to do it again and will eventually go to counseling as his work allows.

    Father is married in a stable home, but no home study for him was done.

    Love the DSS.
  2. Anonymous 28/4/10 09:59
    Let me guess, DSS is part of the cabal that provides guardian ad litems for the family court system or do they get to dodge that wretched issue?

    OF course, with respect to DSS, we do have to find a place to hire the Social Work degrees that flow from our colleges.
  3. Nancy Corbin 28/4/10 22:57
    Volunteer Guardians ad Litem are not part of DSS. As a GAL I am proud to advocate in the best interest of the child, no matter what DSS, parents etc want. Many times GALs are the only adult that is a constant in a childs life. There is a difference between Volunteer Guardians, that advocate for children in abuse/neglect cases and Paid Guardians that are involved in custody and court ordered visitation issues.
  4. Calhoun Fawls 29/4/10 02:07
    Ms. Corbin, you are right. Volunteer GALs are often good people who work harder than the DSS in a far too many cases.
  5. Anonymous 23/5/10 08:52
    DSS staff are too often people on power trips who couldn't hold a job in the real world private sector where customer service & actual productivity are valued.

    Sadly, very few actually care what happens to the children.

    Too many just want the safe paycheck -they can "find" wrongs to justify their jobs OR ignore wrongs for of all types of personal reasons!
  6. Anonymous 15/7/10 11:24
    I am a single mother of 2 small children. I dont know much about this blog but I'm trying to find out how the DSS work. I have never neglected or abused my kids. my kids were placed by me w/ my sister so they would not be in foster care. Maybe I should have never signed those papers. I need help and have no one to turn to
  7. Anonymous 18/11/10 08:57
    I became a Foster Parent and had a child placed with me at 3 days old. We had already begun the adoption process when a family member who refused the child originally "changed their mind" DSS encouraged us to fight for the child and said they would back us. At the last minute DSS recommended placement with the family member and after a very ugly Court battle we lost our daughter who was 13 months old at the time. The family member had NEVER seen her until the day they took her from us. During the Court proceedings DSS totally turned on us and sided completely with the family members. DSS workers are power hungry people who have no supervision or accountability. They do what they want regardless of what is best for the child
  8. Susie 14/5/12 18:58
    The dss took our kids and never showed us any court papers they haven't had sign a treatment plan or any other papers and we are trying to go by what they say and all we are taking paranting classes even though we haven't been court odered too but we are stuck spining our wheels cause we don't have a place to bring them home too cause we can't find a job and its been a little over six months we were told that we still qulifiy for a.f.d.c. but we can't get that till we get them back so we stuck we wrere told by one attys office that without court papers we can go get the kids cause we could stay with my husbands real fatherany insights on this would be grate steven and melissa poston
  9. Anonymous 29/6/12 04:01
    Richland County DSS took my daughter's infant from the hospital. The assessment worker is Darrell Payne. The assessment supervisor is Cynthia Taylor. Among their many deceitful maneuvers is a filed a complaint for permanent removal signed for a lawyer who no longer works for RCDSS, Princess Hodges. Among the many false accusations was an allegation that my daughter's deceased child (2010) died of suffocation from my daughter's arm on the child. However, we have produced the death certificate which clearly shows the child died of Meningitis. Our lawyer has moved to strike all of their false allegations and to dismiss the complaint. We have also asked the assement worker and supervisor to recuse themselves and if they do not we can envoke the 1983 Act which is a civil claim against them allowing our lawyer access to all cases they have worked on. I know our baby will be home soon. However, part of what keeps me up at night is how many familes has this dynamic duo intentionally torn apart?
  10. Anonymous 29/6/12 04:33
    DSS "assessment workers" are exempt from licensure. They are not social workers and are not required to have college degrees. How crazy is that? Uneducated, unlicensed people are deciding the fate of children. What is this? Mission Island?
  11. Anonymous 28/3/13 23:32
    Those who only read case reports, see their children only 2 or 3 times then make a decision based on gleamed information from child factor check sheets and various reports and then believe they immune from exercising due diligence, responsibility and the best interest of a child should be held responsibile. Being a foster / foster adoptive parent after 2 years with the child in the system the great aunt who hasn't seen the child in 3 years agrees to take care of a 10 year old active boy when I had met all the requirements EXCEPT "Relative Placement" and Charleston DSS has approved the 'transfer'. Has everyone lost thier mind down there OR is the new "Family Reunification Policy" gone amuck!
  12. Anonymous 28/3/13 23:57
    One more item of interest about the article on relative placement. I had my quarterly review and home study AND adoption class. Now misteriously none of my paperwork NEVER made it to the child's adoption workers desk but everyone there knew of my interest in the child. Now bear in mind, the person conducting the class was the Region III Adoptions department supervisior / Recruiter and was supposed to 'hand deliver' it to the case worker!
    This certainly cast doubts as to my continue helping the kids trying to lead a normal life and sponsoring 5 kids in Little League (and that isn't cheap) when all you get is a kick in the teeth from DSS and the group foster home! Where was the great aunt when the baseball costs were being paid?

    Absoultely Bewildered in Dorchester County by Charleston DSS (and I use that term loosely.)
  13. Anonymous 10/4/13 20:57
    Now not being a professional one would think a Foster Parent working with but not having a child in his or her home for 10 months or so would mean something over what I've been reading. I did come accros this and one would think the child's interest and well being would be better served by the foster parent who knows the child over an aunt that has not seen him/her in 3 years BUT looks like relative placement is going to happen - Then what ? From the DSS manual:
    The permanent plan options in order of priority are
    · reunification with parents;
    · adoption by relative, foster parent, or other individual;
    · guardianship / permanent custody by relative or other individual;
    · placement with a relative who has the intent for the child to remain
    · another planned permanent living arrangement in foster care.

    Wonder what the SC Supreme Court Youngblood case will establish? Foster parents have no rights at all where adoption is concerned?
  14. Anonymous 13/4/13 00:13
    Task Force time in Charleston from 11am to 3pm Friday.
    In part from the SC DSS website: "The Task Force will review and evaluate reports submitted by agencies that identify current and proposed statutes, regulations, rules and policies that are deemed a burden on the state’s economy. Toward that end, I, Lillian B. Koller, State Director, invite both oral and written comments from any person or entity on current or proposed statutes, regulations, rules, or policies implemented by SCDSS that may unduly burden businesses or employers."

    Notice the emphass is on businesses or employers but does invite comments from any person. Outside of the governor's staff present, a court recorder, a sound or mic operator and some hotel maintenance staff, there was only one person in attendance. That person was limited to 3 minutes but sat there until 10 minutes before the forum closed and filled out comment forms about statue 63 in general. Perhaps for no good purpose - perhaps they will get some consideration? Who knows?

    Being conserned about DSS,the policies and "Best Interest" of our children and how they are protecting our kids was a most disappointing turn out of citizens. Perhaps everyone has just given up trying to enforce DSS to adhear to their own rules. After all, to my knowledge where or who is the oversite for their overall actions? Who is accountable and responsible for their actions locally? Perhaps if you were a family court lawyer or judge with some clout you might get an answer.
    If a conserned person did actually did discover who was accountable or responsible, you be far lucker that most to get an 'appointment' to see him or her and ask any the rational behind what was done by them - as they really don't have to say or justify anything - even if speaking in general terms.

    We can spend millions of dollars on heated swimming pools in the winter, bike trails on highways for adults, new law enforcement equipment for our police but what about our kids and the tens of thousands of dollars cut from the budget and staff reduced?
    The case worker just can't accomplish what she or he may know in their heart is the right thing to do during a duty day of 8 to 10 hours because so many other cases are pilling up. The goal is reunification of the family by whatever means possible thus reducing the DSS budget spent on kids in care. The few case workers left are just over burdened with cases and paperwork; not to mention needing a job too to make ends meet.

    We've done so much with so little now that someone must think we can do everything with nothing at all!

    Disappointed in the Low Country.

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