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SC Welfare Agency Once Again Comes Under The Microscope




Government in South Carolina operates on a remarkably simple, three-step “infinite repeat” cycle: 1) Politicians complain about a problem. 2) More tax money is thrown at the problem. 3) The problem gets worse.

Rinse, repeat … rinse, repeat.

Roads, bridges, schools, health care … you name it, this three-step “infinite loop” is always at work, delivering “less for more” with uncanny consistency.  Seriously: State government has expanded by roughly $1 billion per year over the last seven years – and is poised to grow by $1.3 billion in the current budget cycle.

What are we getting in return for that investment?  More expensive failure, that’s what … across the boards.

Nowhere is this failure more tragically apparent than at the S.C. Department of Social Services (SCDSS) – one of governor Nikki Haley‘s most woefully-mismanaged cabinet agencies.

SCDSS has been an unmitigated disaster since Haley took office in 2011 – most notably as it relates to vulnerable children being repeatedly placed in abusive homes.  These problems – which are ongoing – ultimately led to the resignation of Haley’s “rock star” SCDSS director Lillian Koller in June of 2014.

They also led to a flood of investigations … and a ton of new taxpayer money so that the agency could (ostensibly) hire new case workers.  SCDSS received $692 million in the current (FY 2015-16 budget) – an increase of $34 million from the previous fiscal year.  That money was supposed to increase the agency’s full-time staff by nearly 300, thus enabling it to better manage its case loads.

Has it?  Um, no.

Still, SCDSS is asking for even more money in the upcoming FY 2016-17 budget … and they are likely to get it, too.

Because it’s “for the children.”

This month, one state lawmaker – S.C. Senator Kevin Bryant – will try to get to the bottom of this bottomless money pit.

“Our state’s social services agency is fraught with issues, not the least of which is social workers in Anderson County with more than 100 cases in their case load,” Bryant said.  “These workers are dealing with some of the most fragile family situations in our state, and we need to ensure they are capable of meeting the needs of those families.”

Bryant will hold a hearing into this issue on Tuesday, March 29 at 6:00 p.m. EDT on the campus of Tri-County Technical College (1776 Powdersville Road) in Powdersville, S.C.  Joining him will be the current director of SCDSS, Susan Alford.

Will anything come of this hearing?

We’re not holding our breath … although hopefully Bryant, one of a handful of fiscally conservative members of the S.C. Senate, will ask some tough questions regarding how the agency is spending its money.

Somebody needs to …