The South Carolina Department of Social Services says they’re making progress on lowering the caseloads for their workers, to protect neglected children.
Lawmakers say they’re still unhappy with the numbers in Anderson and Oconee counties, but believe the agency is working hard to turn things around.
“We want to hold them accountable and give the public assurance that we have a problem but we are going to keep working together until we get these problems solved,” said Senator Kevin Bryant, the Senate General Committee Chairman.
DSS leaders want their caseworkers only handling 24 cases at a time to ensure everything is being done for the safety of the children. They’ve been working with state lawmakers since 2014 to make it happen, but they’re still unhappy with Anderson and Oconee counties.
“We can’t serve the families as fast as we would like them to, obviously,” Senator Bryant added. “So it is frustrating to the families and everyone involved when we’ve don’t have people to do all of the work.”
At one point, leaders say one Anderson County case worker was handling over 100 children. Others were said to have been managing more than 80. But those numbers have dropped, but still aren’t where they want them to be.
Senator Kevin Bryant called a hearing for the public Tuesday night to address the ongoing problem. If it isn’t fixed, he says children’s lives are at risk.
“They may not be as thorough as they would like to be. They may not be able to consider all of the facts. We found where cases were being shuffled from one case worker to the next,” He said. “There’s a lack of communication and some families are starting from scratch with a new case worker but help is on the way.”
Senator Bryant met with DSS leaders who have already been redistributing case loads to new and existing workers. He says the new Regional Director is working hard to make things right, and while the case loads are still high, he says progress is being made.
“They are still doing a very good job even though they’re overloaded,” he said. “Hopefully in the near future, we can see some improvements.”
The agency hired 170 new caseworkers to solve the case load problem. Leaders say 9 were placed in Anderson County, but they’re still in training. DSS is still looking to hire more.