REPORT TARGETS PALMETTO STATE’S CHILD “WELFARE” AGENCY
ABC World News Tonight aired a special investigative report over the weekend alleging more than six dozen South Carolina children died last year as a result of mismanagement at the state’s welfare agency.
According to the report, case managers at the S.C. Department of Social Services (SCDSS) were “pressured to create a false appearance of success” – resulting in children being returned to dangerous homes.
Four of those case managers spoke with ABC News on condition of anonymity – their faces blurred out and their voices altered.
“We would start looking at returning children home faster than what they should be returned to,” one of the case workers said.
FITS exclusively reported on one of these tragic cases – the brutal murder of four-year-old Robert Guinyard – back in 2013. It wasn’t until February of 2014, though, that the state’s mainstream media picked up on the story and started taking a closer look at the agency.
That process that eventually resulted in the ouster of S.C. Department of Social Services (SCDSS) director Lillian Koller.
Neither Koller nor the woman who appointed her – S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley – provided comment to ABC News.
In case you missed it, here’s the report …
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“I thought (the report) made South Carolina look awful,” one state lawmaker told FITS.
In addition to breaking the Guinyard story, FITS has reported on other instances in which SCDSS has allegedly manipulated data – including its administration of the federal food stamp program as well as its so-called “welfare to work” initiative.
Haley is running for reelection in 2014, and not surprisingly her gubernatorial challengers wasted little time in pouncing on the report.
“Governor Haley turned her back on our most vulnerable children and her leadership failure continues to threaten those under the care of South Carolina’s Department of Social Services,” self-styled independent Republican Tom Ervin said in a statement. “Governor Haley knew about this crisis but failed to act until the public outcry was deafening. We can do better for our state and our children.”
Ervin said he would bring “immediate reform” to SCDSS if elected, redirecting “human capital from management into case workers.”
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen was not immediately available for comment regarding the report.