Criticism of DSS continues despite Koller resignation - - Columbia, South Carolina

Criticism of DSS continues despite Koller resignation


The resignation of former Department of Social Services director Lillian Koller may have provided Gov. Nikki Haley with a difficult challenge of finding a permanent replacement for the position.

"This is not a job people want," Haley said Tuesday.

The search to find a new director may be tough, but the resignation of Koller amid growing criticism of the agency and a possible vote of no confidence from the South Carolina Legislature may ignite something much greater.

"I think her resignation is not the end," Sen Darrell Jackson (D-Richland) said. "It may even be the beginning. I've had calls and constituents who have called me about various similar situations. Children that have died and then DSS has given the other children back to the parents with which a child died earlier."

Currently, the state Legislative Audit Council is reviewing DSS operation and is expected to release a report this summer.

"We need to get the information back on the audit report," Rep. James Smith (D-Richland) said, "which I think is going to show some clear shortcomings that will respond to the questions legislators have been asking, but we've not been getting any response from the agency."

Although the specifics aren't available from the agency just yet, lawmakers are seeing basic issues that will have to be addressed.

"We need to make sure that the case workers have the resources they need to do their job," Sen. Tom Young (R-Aiken) said. "That there are case workers in the state that do not have an excessive number of cases and that they don't have an excessive number of children within the cases."

On Monday, Haley named Amber Gillum as the agency's interim director. Whether she will be retained permanently at that position will not be known for quite some time, but there is one thing that is certain to Jackson.

"I think DSS has a very, very bad problem that goes far beyond just one person."

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