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Acting director of DJJ talks about the future of the department

Acting director Eden Hendrick talks about her first 30 days on the job.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Eden Hendrick has just taken the reins of the Department of Juvenile Justice as the acting director.   

With just thirty days into her new role, she sat down and spoke to WLTX about her hopes for the future of the department.   

Hendrick says she started working at the department in June of 2021, helping in the human resources and finances department.

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Her new title comes after former director Freddie Pough stepped down after five years at the helm of the DJJ.  He stepped down  after months of intense scrutiny of his agency by lawmakers and employees at the department. 

Gov. Henry McMaster accepted Pough's letter of resignation Tuesday, Sept. 21.

Hendrick admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done at the agency saying, “The main thing we have to do is address the staffing issue.” She goes on to say her first point of action is improving safety at the department and working to recruit the staff needed to fill the dozens of vacant positions.

“The support really needs to be focusing on getting those JCOs and other direct care positions filled to serve the juveniles in our custody," she said.

She says the South Carolina Department of Administration and the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services have been providing support, with the South Carolina Department of Corrections providing two consultants to help get DJJ back on the right path.

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Eden Hendrick will serve as acting director of state DJJ until a permanent director is nominated by Gov. McMaster and confirmed by the SC Senate.