Gov. Says Changes Coming to DSS

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Governor Nikki Haley outlined some changes to the Department of Social Services in the wake of recent problems with the agency.

In February, we told you the story of Robert Guinyard Jr, a four-year-old boy who was deputies say was physically abused by his parents and taken into DSS custody. Robert died six months after a judge put him back in his family's home. When DSS went to check on him, we're told his parents showed them a different child.

His parents have been charged in his death.

Since then, a South Carolina Senate subcommittee held several hearings to investigate DSS. In the hearings, case workers say they have too many cases, and were told to make their numbers look good. They also said they weren't always able to make contact with the family within 24 hours of a report.

DSS Director Lilian Koller was questioned for hours, and admitted some of those problems were true.

The investigation has turned political, with both of Haley's opponents calling for Koller to resign. Haley had stood behind her selection of Koller since the criticism has begun.

In response, the governor plans to add 20 new caseworkers to Richland County. She has also created a second shift at DSS so that case workers are available into the evening hours. She'll also create a liaison to make sure Richland County Sheriff's deputies, the Richland County coroner, and DSS are all communicating.

"At this point there's never a time where we can be satisfied," Haley said. "Because as long as babies are dying, we've got more work to do. And the said part is I can't tell you that more kids won't die."

Another senate subcommittee meeting on the troubles at DSS will be held next week.


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