Like many South Carolinians, I had difficulty understanding why the Department of Social Services (DSS) withheld critical information from the public and got away with it for so long. It’s our duty as citizens – and our elected officials' duty as public servants – to hold DSS accountable for its wrongdoing. If the department was struggling to offer sufficient support to the families and children within their field, then why did no one ask for help? It’s unacceptable to not report one child’s death, much less 152. How could this happen?
Although DSS’ failures are jaw-dropping, blame does not fall solely on its employees’ shoulders. Our lawmakers are in Columbia, in part, to promote the safety and well-being of our citizens. They failed South Carolina’s children when they allowed DSS’ malfeasance to take place under their watch.
The Legislative Audit Council (LAC) reports that 1 out of 4 child abuse victims in South Carolina was not seen by a caseworker within 24 hours. It’s findings like this that call for immediate action. According to DSS officials, initiatives to fix in-house problems are under way. These initiatives should be considered baby steps to restoring DSS’ credibility – and child safety – in South Carolina.
It’s also the responsibility of every individual to take action if they witness or suspect that a child has been abused or neglected. If you are aware of an instance when a child has been harmed and needs help, contact local law enforcement or DSS immediately.
Likewise, if you have legal questions pertaining to child safety or a child’s injury in South Carolina, call my office today at 803-790-2800. I also encourage you to order a free copy of my books for more information on ways we can keep kids safe. Together, we can reduce the number of child deaths in our state by taking action and demanding more from the people who receive our tax dollars.