SC Legislative Updates

Gov. McMaster Proclaims April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in South Carolina

Citing child abuse and neglect as the state’s most serious public health problem in the state, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster issued an official proclamation designating April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. The proclamation cites the importance of prevention programs in communities across South Carolina that give families the knowledge and resources to learn, grow and thrive while providing safe, caring environments for children. Gov. McMaster encourages all South Carolinians to work together to protect the safety and well-being of children in the Palmetto State.
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Department of Social Services Oversight Subcommittee Tackles Foster Care Concerns

DSS Director Alford and Other State Foster Care Leaders Addressed System Challenges at Wednesday Meeting Michelle Dhunjishah, director and general counsel of the SC Foster Care Review Board, spoke to the committee about challenges in the foster system, including protracted licensing of foster families, inadequate oversight and support of alternative caregivers and the need for additional DSS lawyers to serve as advocates for children across the state. Carl Brown of the Foster Parent Association detailed the problematic training schedule and compensation rates for foster families, noting that foster parents in South Carolina receive nearly 14 percent less than foster parents in Georgia
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Safe Haven Legislative Passes House and Moves to Senate

Safe haven (H. 3522) legislation by Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, D-Lancaster, was passed by the House and sent to the Senate. This bill would require safe havens to post a public notice (to be provided by the S.C. Department of Social Services) identifying their location as a safe haven. This legislation is connected to Daniel’s Law, prohibiting prosecution of any person who abandons an unharmed infant younger than 30 days old to an employee of a safe haven, most often hospitals and fire stations.
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Child Welfare and Safety Legislation Makes Progress in Senate

Two Important Bills Receive Favorable Committee Reports Mandatory reporting (H. 3099) legislation by Rep. Peter M. McCoy, Jr., R-Charleston, would require college administrators, coaches, scout leaders, firefighters, camp counselors and others working in direct contact with children to report suspected child abuse and neglect. The bill moves to the floor of the House of Representatives. S. 334 by Sen. Kevin Johnson, D- Clarendon, directs the Department of Natural Resources to gather public input on improving recreational water safety in South Carolina and then report recommendations to the Senate. This legislative moves to the Senate for consideration.
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Snapshot of Foster Care in South Carolina Available

South Carolina Foster Care Review Board Releases Annual Report  The Foster Care Review Board provides a snapshot of foster care in South Carolina.  The data included in the latest annual report represented children reported by the S.C. Department of Social Services who remain in foster care at least four consecutive months and are reviewed by the S.C. Foster Care Review Board. Of note in 2013: 2,988 children entered foster care. 5,876 cases were reviewed. 539 finalized adoptions. Of cases reviewed by local review boards: 44 percent recommended termination of parental rights. 34 percent recommended reunification. 17 percent recommended adoption. The report also
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Legislation Prefiled to Address Child Welfare Concerns

DSS Senate Oversight Committee Holds Last Hearing of Year  The Department of Social Services Oversight Subcommittee recently heard testimony from several individuals. Dr. Olga Rosa, board certified child abuse pediatrician and DSS Acting Director, Amber Gilliam both testified. The committee heard about needs for centralized intake hotline for child abuse cases, increased collaboration with S.C. Children’s Advocacy Medical Response System and creation of local child fatality review committees.  Video of the testimony is available.   Prefiled legislation addresses some of the concerns raised during these hearings. S. 150 (Sen. Shealy, R-Lexington) restructures DSS through the creation of the Department of Family Protective Services
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