Tag Archives: DSS

Do I Need an Attorney in My South Carolina DSS Case?

South Carolina Supreme Court I'm often asked if a party to a Department of Social Services case needs an attorney. Sometimes, they have even been told they don't need an attorney by the guardian ad litem ("GAL") or someone else. I strongly disagree with this bad advice. In May of 2013, the South Carolina Supreme Court declined to overturn the termination of parental rights ("TPR") of a mother who had been denied legal counsel. The TPR involved a child who was in the...
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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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Grandparent Custody in South Carolina DSS Cases

grandparents can be foster care providers In my South Carolina practice, grandparents ask of they can get custody of their grandchild in a DSS case. So-called third-party victims of child abuse and neglect can play a vital part in any given South Carolina DSS action.  The grandparents, aunts and uncles and adult siblings can step up and become the child’s placement resource through relative placement.  DSS is required to conduct a preliminary investigation within twenty-four hours after the child is...
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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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South Carolina DSS Doesn’t Always Get it Right!

South Carolina DSS-Not always right The South Carolina Department of Social Services ("DSS") isn't always right. There are at least 97 separate South Carolina code sections directly related to child protection and permanency.  This does not include code sections and regulations governing ancillary matters, such as health related issues. Consequently, DSS does not always get it right. Rest assured your case is not necessarily hopeless. Case in point:  South Carolina Department of Social Services v. Randy S., et al, 390 S.C. 100, 700 S.E.2d...
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Does DSS Always Remove a Child When It Suspects Abuse?

child being taken away The South Carolina Department of Social Services ("DSS") does not always remove an abused or neglected child from his parents. South Carolina law clearly states that the goal is to protect the child from further abuse or neglect and to remedy any physical, emotional, or psychological harm the child may have suffered.  Maybe the threat can be removed, instead. South Carolina DSS is not a therapeutic agency, and has no qualified treatment professionals...
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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

When Does the Department of Social Services Act?

child leaning on postIf the South Carolina Department of Social Services investigates a report of suspected child abuse or neglect, it may determine that the alleged abuser is not a parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child's welfare. Recent reports in the Charleston Post and Courier illustrate this point.  An 18-year-old babysitter was charged criminally with homicide by child abuse in the death of a two-year-old in North Charleston, South Carolina, after a...
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When is DSS Removal of a Child Appropriate?

girl looking at ducks South Carolina DSS removal of a child is, many times, not in the best interests of the child.  Of course, a child who is being systematically physically or sexually abused should not remain in the care and custody of an abusive parent.  But what about an eight-year-old child from a low income family that is not getting proper nourishment or who is habitually absent from school without excuse? In an earlier post we asked “Is removal of the child called for...
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