Lawmakers Await Behind Schedule DSS Audit

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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - State auditors are finishing field work at the South Carolina Department of Social Services after 32 members of the legislature signed a request asking for an investigation last year.

"We sort of serve as the watchdog of the legislature," said Perry Simpson, Executive Director of the Legislative Audit Council.

The Legislative Audit Council covertly investigates state agencies.

Their report, originally scheduled to publish last month, is running late and won't be ready until August.

"I was not as engaged on this issue maybe until some of my folks and constituents started coming to me and talking to me about real problems going on in that agency, problems that affect the well being of children," said Sen. Thomas McElveen (D-Sumter). "I for one can't stand by and turn a cheek to that."

McElveen does not serve on the senate committee also investigating DSS.

For that reason, he says the audit will be important when legislative changes come up next session.

"It's more information and it's a different perspective," McElveen said.

The request asks 11 questions about DSS's Child Protective Services division.

Legislators want to know things like, "Are current DSS policies and procedures for handling CPS adequate to fulfilling the mission of the agency?"

"There have been a lot of accusations made, a lot of things that sound really bad, and then some courter response to those that make people question what is the fact," said Sen Shane Massey (R-Edgefield).

Massey believes legislative action is almost certain in 2015 with the help of the audit.

In 1985, they said "DSS should revise staffing standards for human service and economic service workers based on the number of cases effectively carried by a caseworker."

A complaint workers have too many cases still remains today.

"It's clear there's some problems we need to address at DSS. There are some things we need to address legislatively. There are things DSS has asked us to address that they need some help on. There are things we need to do," Massey said. "The LAC report is going to be very helpful to us so when we get back in January we'll have something ready to go."

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