With 80 cases, the Richland County Court Appointed Special Advocates is seeing the highest one month total case load in their 30 year history
Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The director of Richland CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, the Gardian Ad Litum group who advocates for kids in state care, says last month was one of the toughest she's ever had because of how many new cases came into the court system.
"In my tenure here, of over 10 years, I don't remember a month quite like this past month," said Richland CASA Director Paige Green. "Over 80 children, new children, came in before the court system."
Those 80 cases represent the highest one month total Richland CASA has ever had in their 30 year history.
Consider they normally take less than 40 cases a month, and it's more than double their usual load.
"I had to reach out to Richland County adminstration who oversee's CASA and say you know, we're drowning and we need help over here," Green said.
Green asked for the new workers to help with the high case numbers as DSS annouced additional managers and a new night shift of caseworkers in the Richland County Office.
"In 30 or 60 days, we've just had a chance to witness how bad they're backlog is and what that means for getting them through the Guardian Ad Litum program," said Sen. Joel Lourie (D-Richland).
It wasn't just last month that brought high numbers, but year over year, data since 2009 shows another double dose of cases.
A snapshot of cases on May 29th of each year shows this year, Richland CASA has it's highest work load ever. By that date in 2013, CASA served 192 kids while in 2014, they served 577.
It's a more than 200 percent jump from 2013, where totals were uncommonly low.
Green attributes that to DSS pushing cases toward community based services and not accepting them to state care.
Robert Guinyard Jr's case didn't make it to CASA. He died last year after his parents beat him to death.
Despite multiple reports of abuse to DSS, Guinyard's case was initially pushed toward a community based service.
DSS State Deputy Director Jessica Hanak Coulter told us in February that should not have happened.
"What I'm telling my staff is we've got to make sure we're seeing these children each and every month," Green said. "If you can't do anything else, that's the number one priority. At this point, we just can't be assured that our kids are being seen."