Columbia, SC (WLTX)- Several people including the Director of Social Services Susan Alford spoke in front of lawmakers Monday to discuss recent problems with DSS, including group home abuse and children sleeping in offices.
South Carolina ranks as one of the top states with highest numbers of children to be placed in group homes. Alford said the ideal situation would be to have children placed in family oriented situations.
"One of the things you're going to see in my budget request this coming year is for support for kinship care so that we can get that point to being able to say we provide those sort of supports so we can hopefully keep kids in families," Alford said.
Licensed kinship care providers do receive compensation, however; non licensed providers do not.
Karla Kelley, a non-licensed kinship care provider, spoke in front of lawmaker detailing her ordeal to get help for Kaitlyn, an abused and neglected teen who played basketball alongside her daughters.
"It would be a tragedy to see this kid thrown back into the DSS system to be honest with you," Kelley told lawmakers.
Kelley took in Kaitlyn with another family, saying that she has shown resilience and is excelling in school and basketball.
"She will be the first person in her family to graduate from high school to get through without getting pregnant and having a baby," she said.
Kelley told lawmakers her alternative care form did not allow her to get Kaitlyn counseling, and told lawmakers that it needs to be easier.
Kelley also said that Kaitlyn has three other siblings, one of whom is still in the house and was never taken out of the abusive home, telling lawmakers there needs to be more consistency.
Alford said there needs to be more done withing DSS.
"We need a way for children to tell us not only when they're being abused but we need to talk about whether or not they feel like theyre being adequately treated," Alford said. "How would we know whether or not they're receiving the care they need to receive if we just depend on staff to tell us?"
A follow up to today's hearing will be scheduled for sometime within the next couple of weeks. Alford's presentation was cut short because of time constraints.