Through Dec. 30, we are looking back at some of the stories that made headlines in 2014 – and seeing how things played out.
Gov. Nikki Haley recently summed up the last few months at the state’s child-protection agency this way: “A lot of chaos.”
The S.C. Department of Social Services came under intense scrutiny from state senators and auditors after reports that dozens of children had died while under the agency’s watch.
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Former director Lillian Koller resigned in June amid mounting accusations of mismanagement. Soon thereafter, a state investigation concluded excessively high caseloads among child-welfare workers, low pay and high turnover were plaguing the agency, putting children at risk.
Social Services acting director Amber Gillum announced a plan to hire more than 200 new child-welfare workers and has been making progress toward that goal. As of Dec. 8, the agency had 111 additional caseworkers and supervisors on board – the result of hiring 250 new workers while losing 139 others.
The agency also gave child-welfare workers raises and created opportunities for talented front-line caseworkers to move up into leadership roles without leaving the field.
Lawmakers also are expected to consider legislative proposals to improve Social Services in the session that starts in January. Senators also must confirm Haley’s latest nominee to head the agency, Clemson University official Susan Alford.