Columbia, SC (WLTX) -So far this year 41 children who had spent time in the DSS system, have died.
Child advocates attended a forum with lawmakers to discuss the issue.
"Social workers can't say what they really feel because it's punitive," said Jackie Gasden a concerned citizen who attended the forum.
The Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee meeting about Children in our state was standing room only Thursday evening.
Children's advocates wanted answers about the numerous child related deaths and what the Department of Social Services is doing.
"We are told by case workers who work for DSS that they are fearful of their jobs, that they cant take children into foster care or they have to push them out of foster care because they have to get their numbers down," said Paige Greene, Executive Director for the Richland County CASA, a court appointed advocacy group for children.
According to SLED data, in 2011 - 69 children with some type of DSS connection died.
Last year - 62 children have died and so far this year 41 are dead.
Despite the decrease in deaths some think that the numbers aren't accurate and DSS is not counting deaths that occur under the watch of new independent contractors.
"148% more families in South Carolina are receiving services since we started the community based prevention services," said Lillian Kohler, DSS Director.
Kohler says they have increased their interaction with families whose cases would have normally been screened out of the system.
"Our intake would have screened them out before. We are screening out 5,600 fewer reports of abuse and neglect. But for those we are still screening out instead of giving them no services, we are giving them these community based child prevention services to just help them."
The services conduct home visits twice a month and Kohler says if a death happens under an outside contractor... those numbers are not omitted from their total count.
She also says finding homes for foster children have also gone up by 25% within the last two years.
"So they see the numbers go down and they think it's because we are rushing kids out the front door back to their families and the fact is the dramatic change has been on the back end."
Both Kohler and Child advocates agree that one child's death is one too many and are trying to find new ways to keep the numbers low.