- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Department of Social Services needs to be transformed into an agency that focuses entirely on protecting abused and neglected South Carolinians, state Sen. Katrina Shealy said Monday.

The agency is failing some of the state’s most vulnerable children and adults and needs its responsibilities narrowed, said Shealy, R-Lexington.

She plans to introduce a bill Wednesday that would shrink the duties of DSS and rename it the Department of Family Protective Services by July 2016.

All of DSS’ other responsibilities, including food stamps and welfare, would shift to the state’s Medicaid agency. Shealy said the transfer would eliminate duplication between DSS and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Shealy said her bill will also set education, caseload, and response time standards for caseworkers.

“We’ve seen a lot of things that not only are sad but heart-wrenching when you see the things slipping through the cracks,” said Shealy, who sits on a bipartisan Senate committee that’s been studying problems at DSS for the past year. “Let’s put our focus on where it belongs and find a director whose focus can be on child protective services and won’t be so spread out trying to do too many things.”

DSS’ former director, Lillian Koller, resigned in June amid increasing bipartisan calls to oust her. Gov. Nikki Haley had refused for months to fire Koller. The embattled director resigned a day before senators planned to take up a no-confidence resolution on her leadership.

Haley has not yet named her choice to replace Koller.


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