SCDSS officials address concerning video of inside of Richland County office

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Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 8:18 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - WIS learned more about a video posted to social media that appears to show deplorable conditions on the inside of the South Carolina Department of Social Service (SCDSS) office located on Columbia’s Two Notch Road.

WIS reported before on DSS as officials confirmed children without foster placements stay at the DSS office.

Since then the video has circulated garnering more than 500 shares on Facebook.

The person who posted the video says it was shot on Sunday.

DSS confirms the footage shows the inside of the office but says there’s more to the story.

The video shows several rooms inside the Two Notch Road DSS office location.

It was recorded by a 16-year-old who sent it to her older sister showing what she said were the rooms where children sleep.

In the video shown there are clothes scattered on the floor, panels missing in the ceilings, and no bed in sight.

WIS sent the video directly to DSS and asked for an in-person interview as well as a tour of the office, but both requests were denied.

Instead, DSS officials sent a statement:

The video in question was recorded and posted by a teen in foster care waiting for placement after gaining access to a restricted area inside the Richland County office and then proceeded to purposefully trash the storage area.

“No, she did not. They’re lying. They’re telling lies. They just don’t want everyone to tell the truth,” said Lilly Lake, rebutting the statement from DSS.

Lilly Lake is the woman who posted the video to social media after her sister became emotional as she shared her living conditions at the facility with her.

She said, “We were on the phone. She turned the camera around and she was like, look how this looks. She turned the camera, and she went to each and every room and showed me how it looked. She didn’t trash anything, said Lake.

Lake said the video only tells half the story.

She went on to tell WIS how her sister said boys and girls have to sleep together, and they’re also not given nutritious meals but instead given snacks and sweets.

“She says the carpet smells like pee, there is mold in there. I don’t even think there is a shower for them to wash. She told me how she’s hungry and she wants to leave,” Lake added.

“I don’t agree with nothing that’s going on,” said Foster Parent Kimberely Chase.

Kimberely Chase said she’s a current foster parent and used to be a foster child.

WIS showed Chase the video and she expressed she wasn’t surprised as her foster daughter had told her about the conditions before.

“Them not being able to eat correctly, malnutrition, them being verbally abused and things of that sort,” said Chase.

WIS also spoke to two DSS employees who wish to remain anonymous but both said the area in the video was not restricted and the office usually looks like that.

View the full statement from DSS below:

Children and youth come into foster care at all hours of the day and night- whether it is 2 a.m. or 2 p.m. Foster care does not cut off at 5 p.m. like traditional state government working hours. DSS professionals seek foster placement for children and youth, and at times, like in the event that occurred in August 2023, the youth can refuse to go to an identified placement. We’d refer you to the statement we sent you in August 2023.

The area in the video shot by a foster teen today while awaiting placement was a restricted area used for storage that the youth trashed for the purpose of recording the video in question.”

WIS also reached out to county leaders about the video including Councilwoman Yvonne McBride who is over that district. They say they’re currently planning on constructing a new DSS office but there is no official timeline for the project.

See Councilwoman Yvonne McBride’s full statement below:

This has been a top priority for me for a number of years and I believe I now have the full support of the council for the construction of a new facility. I pray and hope that the governor and legislature will work with the county to ensure appropriate facilities and services are provided for some of our most vulnerable children and families. DSS as well as addressing the needs of underserved communities and families will continue to be among my top priorities for Richland County.

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