Earlier this year we commended fellow blogger extraordinaire Earl Capps for pointing out the hypocrisy of the Sanford Administration over the lack of oversight at the Department of Social Services. It appears that in the wake of such a travesty of mismanagement and, yes, even death the agency has sought to reform itself.
According to the State Newspaper in light of the unfortunate deaths the agency:
• Issued new, streamlined guidelines on dealing with drugs in families. They take effect Monday and will be an interim change while national experts conduct an in-depth evaluation.
• Made mandatory employees’ completion of a four-hour, online training program by May 15. It had been voluntary for all 1,000 child welfare workers.
• Sought help from USC experts in better evaluating risks of abuse or neglect in all families. This month, the experts will focus on drug abuse.
• Scheduled an April 27 meeting in Columbia with experts from the National Center for Substance Abuse and Child Welfare and the Children’s Welfare League of America to begin an in-depth review of procedures dealing with drugs in families.
• Decided to enact by April 30 new procedures for better communication with the Child Fatalities Review Committee and to document DSS responses to the panel’s concerns.
Since September ...
• Trained 84 caseworkers or supervisors in a new, voluntary course on the dynamics of drug treatment and recovery.
• Trained 159 additional caseworkers and supervisors in the effects of specific drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and prescription medications. (DSS employs 805 child welfare caseworkers and 194 supervisors.)
• Scheduled three additional training sessions for this spring in the state’s three major cities.
• Trained 88 foster care or adoptive parents in prenatal drug exposure.
But despite all the "reforms," these are only preliminary steps needed to overhaul the beleaguered child services agency. The agency, who has over $1 billion dollar budget has suffered cuts and looks to suffer more as the Governor continues his brinkmanship over the stimulus money. Potential foster parents have complained as much as the employees that the system is to jammed bureaucratically and there are not enough social workers to handle the case loads.
Only time and, and the Governor, will tell whether the agency can modernize, stream line and more effectively protect South Carolina's children.