Category Archives: Your Rights

DSS Safety Plan: The Ultimate Goal Must be Reunification

dss safety plan is reunificationMany times DSS asks a family to allow their children to go live with a family member while DSS completes its investigation into allegations of child abuse or neglect. This accomplished by way of a safety plan. The safety plan is to be signed by the parents, the protectors (grandparents) and DSS, and is valid for only 90 days. But the investigation must be completed within 45 days, unless this time period is extended. If the case is returned as founded,...
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Daniel’s Law (Part Two)

daniel's lawWhen life’s unfortunate circumstances so impact a mother that she must decide that she simply cannot raise her newborn infant, she may leave the infant in the care of a safe haven. A third party may simply be better able to provide for the health, education and welfare of the child. Daniel's Law (see Part One for an introduction) imposes certain affirmative duties on the safe haven. Because the focus of this...
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Daniel’s Law (Part One)

daniel's lawLife’s unfortunate circumstances may so impact a mother that she must decide that she simply cannot raise her newborn infant. Too numerous are the instances where a new born infant is found abandoned in a public restroom or deposited in a dumpster. A mother may prefer to make the decision to give her child up to a third party who can better provide for the health, education and welfare of the child. SC Code Section 63-7-40 (commonly referred to as Daniel’s Law, which I'll refer to...
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Intervening in a DSS case in South Carolina

child There are many reasons why third parties (e.g., grandparents, aunts and uncles or friends) may wish to intervene in a child abuse or neglect case.  The most common is so that they can have input into the case and be heard as to what they believe is in the best interests of the victim child.  Usually, they believe that the child’s best interests include their being awarded temporary or permanent custody of the child.  DSS may or may not agree. It is an uphill fight...
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Department of Social Services Relative Placement Plans

child with parent In an earlier post I noted that DSS could offer as safety plan as an alternative to removal of the child.  (See What Options Does DSS Have? Posted on January 19, 2013.)  The South Carolina Department of Social Services Safety Plan, DSS Form 3087 (SEP 12) in fact states on its face that the expected ending date is 90 days. This is a revision of the Form 3087 (DEC 08) which had no expiration...
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Can the Department of Social Services Delegate Investigation to Third Parties?

DSS delegation to third partiesI recently had a case where DSS referred my clients to Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC) to see if it could meet with the family in order to determine if there were any services which CYDC might offer to the family.  CYDC stressed that it was not conducting an investigation, and told my clients they could refuse to accept services, but their refusal would be reported to DSS who could file a legal (court) case...
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But I’m Their Mother! They Need Me!

mothers and dssI cannot begin to count the times that I have heard a client (usually the mother) say, “How can DSS take my children from me?  I am their mother.  They need me!”  And I usually agree. They do need their mother.  And quickly, or irreparable harm can come from extended separation.  A primary concern of child welfare advocates (and mine) is the separation anxiety that children always feel when they are taken into emergency protective custody by DSS.  I can help you get...
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Custodians and Intervention in DSS cases

Band-aides support This is a true  story about a custodian of a child involving DSS in a South Carolina case. Confidentiality mandates preclude identifying any of the participants. A family court judge recently granted a woman’s (referred to herein as “custodian”) motion to intervene and ordered DSS to return a (female) child which had been wrongfully removed by DSS.  There are two points in play here. First, the custodian was not the child’s parent and was not named by DSS as a party...
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Should You Cooperate with DSS?

  Katie Couic “DSS came by and said that someone reported me for child abuse.  They want to ask me questions about what happened.  Should I cooperate?” Allison C. Williams, Esq., is a well-respected New Jersey attorney with extensive experience representing families embroiled in Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) litigation.  (Note in South Carolina this agency would be called "DSS" so we'll use that term.)  Allison also lectures on the subject and writes extensively on her Read more 0

DSS Has Filed a Petition: What are My Rights?

U.S. Supreme Court-Due Process Rights Families caught up in DSS investigations are faced with many questions concerning their rights. Anxiety arises from their general unfamiliarity with the process, even if DSS has not yet filed a petition alleging abuse or neglect. Typical questions are: “What are my rights?” or “Do I need a lawyer?” WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS? South Carolina Courts have repeatedly held that parents and children hold reciprocal  rights in each other.  That is, the relationship--from both perspectives (child to parent, parent to child) is a...
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