DSS under scrutiny for policies and procedures - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

DSS under scrutiny for policies and procedures

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The Department of Social Services oversight committee heard testimony Wednesday from parents who claim DSS is not following its own policies and it's damaging the well being of the children in its care.

"We have a crisis in South Carolina; there is a war on children," said Paige Greene with Richland County Court Appointed Special Advocates.

Critics have said the system is cutting corners to keep up appearances.

"We had a child who was born in the toilet, and that child and its mother tested positive for drugs," Greene said. "And all of those cases were referred to community based services and not investigated by DSS."

The most troubling story emerged from this family, whose granddaughter was taken away from her terminally ill mother and her father, a decorated marine after little, if any investigation.

"This social worker comes into the home and in front of my five-year-old granddaughter, and points to my son in law and says, ‘I 100 percent know you're a child molester,' said Kelly Heidt.

Kelly's granddaughter was eventually returned to her family after 31 days in foster care and they were given an apology but it toll the help of a powerful ally.

Even when they found nothing, every avenue they went, they found nothing, they wouldn't give up," Heidt said. "Because they didn't want to prove they're wrong, they were getting kick backs or something? They're terrible, heartless people."

Next week DSS officials will testify in front of the oversight committee to address concerns over investigations involving foster home placement.

"In some cases they're taking them out too quickly, and in another way they're putting them in too quickly," said State Sen. Joel Lourie. "It leads me to very much question the whole process is working."

The Heidt family isn't holding their breath for answers but they are now fighting for change.

"What I saw, were lies," Heidt said. "So I don't expect them to tell the truth."

"Our work at DSS is never done and we look forward to continuing the conversation about doing everything possible individually and collectively to safeguard our children," the Department of Social Services said in a statement.

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