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 and 20 percent less than foster care parents in North Carolina in monthly care payments.

Director Susan Alford echoed the need for additional supports to the foster care system and noted excessive caseloads to be a primary focus of the agency. Caseworkers in Richland, Lexington and Spartanburg counties were reported to have the highest caseloads in the state. Alford noted that additional caseworkers for those counties will complete training by the end of the month, and a leadership team within the agency expects to finish mapping agency wide process improvement tasks and timelines by May 2015.