Jones family DSS case to be discussed at Senate oversight subcommittee next week

DSS Senate Committee meeting earlier in the year.
DSS Senate Committee meeting earlier in the year.

LEXINGTON, SC (WIS) - A Senate panel that's been investigating DSS issues will soon take a look at the Jones family case after the family was reported to DSS three times in three years.

State Senator Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, said big caseloads are big problems around the state especially in Lexington County.

But in terms of the Jones case she said she's read the entire DSS file and she doesn't know if this tragedy could have been prevented.

"We're sorry for the kids," Shealy said. "We're sorry for the family that's left."

The alleged murders of five Lexington County children is still incomprehensible.

"You know, there's just not a lot you can say about it," Shealy said.

Shealy said their deaths will be discussed next week during a Senate DSS Oversight Subcommittee meeting.

"You know, you can't start going and throwing blame around on people that are here, because we need to look into this," Shealy said. "We need to find out all the details, because there's a lot of details here."

The newly released file on the Jones family said the South Carolina Department of Social Services went to the home of Tim Jones, Jr. three times in three years for allegations ranging from neglect to physical abuse but caseworkers never found anything severe enough to take emergency protective custody of the children.

"When the DSS workers went out there, you know, they took law enforcement with them," Shealy said. "You know, nobody ever saw any reason to take somebody's children away."

But Shealy said her subcommittee will keep digging.

"Maybe there's something there that we haven't found yet, and I'm sure that there'll be questions asked," Shealy said.

In particular if Jones's criminal history was taken into account.

Additionally, Shealy also has been concerned about the caseloads of DSS workers across the state.

In Lexington County alone, some caseworkers have as many as 48 cases assigned to them.

"That's something that's going to be discussed, and that's something that's going to be taken up in legislation this year," Shealy said. "I know that, in hindsight, those DSS workers are feeling really bad right now, and they wish they had seen something that would have given them a reason to take those children away."

Caseworkers had planned to follow up on the most recent report of physical abuse from Aug. 7 but they have 45 days to do so and hadn't yet.

Shealy said that's an issue they'll look at and says the 45-day window may need to be shrunk.

The Senate DSS Oversight Committee will meet next Tuesday at 9 a.m.

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