Haley unveils corrective action plan for DSS - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Haley unveils corrective action plan for DSS

Governor Nikki Haley Governor Nikki Haley

Gov. Nikki Haley says she has a plan to fix the issues and improve the state's troubled Social Services Department.

The governor says it all starts with Richland County, where she says there's a high number of child deaths and a high number of cases for each DSS social worker.

"It's hard to go by number, as in what's the right number per case worker. It's really about how do you care for these kids? It's about putting enough quality time into each family and into each case to make sure we're protecting kids the best we can," said Haley.

Haley's plan, called a "corrective action plan" for the county office, includes a 20-person team that will immediately go to work on the caseload of overworked caseworkers.

"We want to strengthen them more," said Haley. "That means if in Richland County we need to send in 20 more people until we can get more trained, we will do that."

The plan also implements a second shift for caseworkers in Richland and Greenville counties. Haley is also calling for SLED and Richland County authorities to coordinate, giving DSS greater access to law enforcement when time is critical for endangered children.

"We're going to have a DSS liaison that now works directly with the coroner, with the sheriff, and with CASA to make sure there's no line of communication we haven't hit," said Haley. "The goal of this is to always make it better than it was the day before."

CASA has been at the forefront of the DSS Senate hearings, and CASA attorney Angie Kohel says more workers is only part of the solution.

"We have kids, Richland County kids, placed in foster care. There are a shortage of good, quality foster homes here in Richland County," said Kohel. "A lot of our children are placed in Horry County, in Greenville."

Since it's a Richland County case though, a Richland County caseworker has to make the trip to see each one.

"It'd be very difficult for a caseworker to manage that," said Kohel.

But to Kohel, it's a start.

The governor says she still supports department Director Lillian Koller, who continues to face calls for resignation. Haley noted Koller's recent stroke was because running the agency is so stressful.

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