This afternoon, Nikki Haley presented a proclamation for Child Abuse Prevention Month at the Statehouse. Meanwhile, she continues to stand by her failed agency head as investigations show that children are dying and being kept in dangerous situations because the Department of Social Services is more focused on meeting quotas and lowering numbers than they are on child safety.
South Carolina deserves better than a governor who will stand by as this kind of devastating dysfunction occurs, then issue a ceremonial proclamation about preventing abuse. It’s time for a change.
Haley’s DSS fails to protect children in order to meet quotas. “Sens. Katrina Shealy and Joel Lourie are part of a subcommittee that heard Wednesday about an alarming number of child deaths where the Department of Social Service was already involved. The lawmakers also heard about a system of goals that encourages social workers to keep children out of or remove them from foster care even if it isn’t the best thing to do…. The goals deeply bothered both Lourie and Shealy. ‘They are talking about wildly important goals. Let’s get the numbers down?’ Shealy said. ‘These aren’t numbers. These are people.’” [AP, 1/15/14]
At least one child died after DSS placed them back in an abusive home. “A four-year-old child who was brutally murdered by his parents last week was placed in the home by the S.C. Department of Social Services (SCDSS), sources close to the family tell FITS. The young boy – son of 28-year-old Robert Antonio Guinyard and 25-year-old Courtney Shante Thompson – was killed last Monday by blunt force trauma to the head and body. According to WLTX TV 19 (CBS – Columbia, S.C.), Richland County Sheriff’s deputies say ‘the child was beaten throughout the day, and when his mother came home, she did nothing to help the child.’” [FITS News, 7/9/13]
Haley admin was aware of putting children at risk, did not step in to save them. “Heidt reached out to Shealy while her granddaughter was in state care. The senator, an ally of Gov. Nikki Haley who chose Koller to head DSS, said she spoke to the director and other agency leaders. ‘I tried to get them to fix that problem,’ Shealy said. ‘They wouldn’t help me. … They kept saying, ‘We’re working on it.’ ” [The State, 1/15/14]
Child Advocates Raise Concerns About DSS Injuries, Deaths. “We’re repeatedly told by case workers who work at the Department of Social Services they’re fearful of their jobs, that they can’t take a child into foster care or they have to push that child to leave foster care because they have to get their numbers down,” said Greene. “These are some of our most vulnerable citizens, and it’s our job as a state to protect them and I think that the policies that Ms. Koller and the governor have implemented have failed the children greatly,” said Lourie. [WLTX, 10/3/13]
Nikki Haley is standing by her failed DSS head…. “Haley loves Koller. In fact she’s repeatedly referred to her as a “rock star,” praising her earlier this year in the 2014 State of the State speech.” [FITS News, 2/25/14] “Haley is standing behind Koller’s leadership. Her spokesman cited numbers showing a decrease in deaths, increase in adoptions and more people moving from welfare to work since Koller took the agency’s helm in 2011.” [AP, 3/19/14]
…And uses the lower numbers that came at the detriment of children to defend her embattled appointee. “’All the numbers that I worked with her on have improved. Let’s be clear, one child death is one death too many,’ Haley said. ‘Our job is to make sure we constantly improve those numbers. … Every member of that agency is committed to that under the leadership of Lillian Koller.’” [Columbia Free Times, 3/19/14]
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