A FRIGHTENING LOOK INSIDE THE PALMETTO STATE’S “WELFARE” AGENCY
In case you hadn’t heard, things are bad at S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley‘s Department of Social Services (SCDSS). Like … real bad.
FITS first began exposing the many issues with this agency more than two years ago (while the rest of the state’s media was sound asleep). These reports that have since mushroomed into a full-fledged debacle for Haley. The governor’s “rock star” director – Lillian Koller – resigned in disgrace in June (thanks to this story), and now the agency is weeks (maybe days) away from the release of a damning audit.
After failing to sweep the scandal under the rug, Haley has since done her best to target the state lawmakers who are investigating SCDSS.
She’s already gone after her one-time ally Katrina Shealy – who is leading a state panel investigating the agency – and sources tell FITS she’s now attempting to discredit S.C. Rep. Jenny Horne, the lawmaker who initially requested the forthcoming SCDSS audit.
S.C. lawmakers are meeting next Tuesday – September 16 – to try and figure out what the hell to do with the mess.
Not surprisingly, they’re trying to determine exactly what’s wrong – and what they should do to fix the problems.
Courtesy of a whistleblower at the agency, here are some suggestions …
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As you can see, this memo (obtained exclusively by FITS) is brutal …
Specifically, it accuses the agency of all sorts of data manipulation including fixing numbers for audits “so DSS looks good.” It also questions multi-million dollar contracts awarded by former director Lillian Koller – and calls attention to a massive decline in licensed foster homes used by the agency (3,288 in February of 2011 compared to 2,541 in February of 2014).
The memo also references an “exodus” of qualified staffers at multiple levels of the agency, including “county directors, supervisors, county workers, seasoned workers, new workers and very new workers.”
“Some are forced out, some are fired, and some are getting out of the hostile environment,” the whistleblower adds, noting that “it costs taxpayers an astounding amount of money to keep re-hiring and retraining staff for the same position.”
“By the time this administration leaves, the rest of us will have a real mess on our hands and a lot of lives to clean up,” the author of the memo writes.
“We are threatened and demeaned,” the memo concludes. “We go into homes in squalor; we are exposed to roaches, rates, head lice and fleas. Daily we are confronted by children with broken bones, broken families and broken spirits. We get yelled at by hostile families and get berated by family court judges. With law enforcement, we remove children crying, screaming and cursing while parents are reacting in a myriad of ways. Workers cry in the hallway because of the stress. The paperwork is outrageous and repetitive. People like to judge us before they walk in our shoes. This is not a job for the faint of heart but for those who are passionate for our vulnerable children and adults. Contrary to the numbers offered by (the) state office, caseloads are high – turnover of staff will do that. Now (legislators are) shaking their heads, wondering what is happening at DSS.”