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Oversight Survey: Palmetto Welfare Agency Slammed … Again

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REPORT HIGHLIGHTS ONGOING, SYSTEMIC PROBLEMS AT SCDSS

|| By FITSNEWS || Nearly two-thirds of respondents to a S.C. House of Representatives oversight panel say they have a “negative” or “very negative” perception of the state’s scandal-scarred welfare agency, the S.C. Department of Social Services (SCDSS).

The survey (.pdf here) found 27.3 percent of respondents had a “very negative” perception of the agency – more than four times the percentage of respondents who said they had a “very positive” perception.  Meanwhile 56 percent of respondents said the agency functioned “worse” or “much worse” than other state bureaucracies.

Based on SCDSS’ history, that’s actually a pretty generous assessment.

Accompanying these abysmal results?  Nearly forty pages of comments from respondents regarding the agency – which was the subject of a brutal October 2014 audit.

Virtually all of the 457 comments are negative.

One of the comments reads as follows …

DSS has no accountability, lacks professional training, has a dangerous internal culture where it is unwilling to work with other agencies, DSS does not communicate, DSS does not provide for the educational needs of students in protective custody, DSS is NOT proactive in protecting children, DSS looks for ways to not do their jobs. Lastly, DSS needs a complete overhaul, replace ALL senior management and county management and understand professional behaviors.

Wow.

Here’s another …

SC DSS is disfunctional (sic) at best and malignant at worst, and probably closer to the latter. It is a cancer in this state. The from the lowest social worker, to the attorneys who represent the agency in court, to the directors, no one takes their duties and responsibilities to heart. The child deaths in this state are merely a small representation of larger, more widespread delinquencies within the department.

As this website repeatedly noted, SCDSS has been an unmitigated disaster since governor Nikki Haley took office in 2011 – most notably as it relates to instances in which vulnerable children were repeatedly placed in abusive homes.

Beyond that, there’s the agency’s ongoing failure with regard to the state’s child support enforcement database, its total lack of follow-through regarding a food stamp waiver touted by Haley in her so-called “war on fat,” questionable consultant payments and allegations of cooked books at its “welfare to work” program and its food stamp system.

(For a recent report detailing one of these scams, CLICK HERE).

Of interest?  Many of the comments in the House oversight report address issues raised by this website over the past four-and-a-half years.  In fact several comments specifically referenced the widespread food stamp fraud at the agency, concluding SCDSS “practically gives away” the benefits to anyone who applies.

“The amounts of benefits people get are far more that I believe the average people or families spend,” one commenter noted, saying the agency need to focus its efforts on identifying and prosecuting fraud.

“We need a full-time unit in each county to find and prosecute (fraud),” the commenter added.

You know … as opposed to covering it up.

Despite these issues, Haley refused to take action at SCDSS for several years.  In fact she even attacked her longtime ally S.C. Sen. Katrina Shealy after it became clear Shealy wasn’t going to toe the governor’s line and support the agency’s former director Lillian Koller – whom Haley repeatedly referred to as a “rock star.”

Haley eventually accepted Koller’s resignation – and nominated a “higher educrat” from Clemson University, Susan Alford, to run the department.

Clearly the change has changed nothing …

In addition to SCDSS, the S.C. House oversight survey – conducted in May – also assessed respondents’ views of the S.C. Comptroller General’s office, the S.C. Department of Transportation, the state’s “First Steps to School Readiness” program and the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice.

No agency scored as poorly as SCDSS, nor did any agency generate anywhere near the same level of open-ended reaction.

So … will lawmakers finally get off their asses and enact real reform?

LOL.  Don’t be silly.

Their only reaction to the food stamp scam?  Moving it off the state’s books … 

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