Michael Leach DSS

Michael Leach, center, has been chosen by Gov. Henry McMaster, front left, to be the new director of the state's Department of Social Services.

Gov. Henry McMaster on Wednesday announced the selection of Michael Leach as the new director of the state's Department of Social Services.

Leach, 39, will come to South Carolina after working in the Tennessee Department of Children's Services. He has been working at that agency for a decade, and spent the last year as its deputy commissioner of child programs.

As noted by The Post and Courier's Seanna Adcox, Leach "stands to take over an agency long plagued by high turnover and caseloads that have made social workers responsible for more than 100 children at a time."

DSS is under the watch of the judicial system following a 2016 agreement in federal court that it would lower workers' caseloads and more vigorously investigate claims of abuse, among other things. The agency is required to give monthly updates to the court on its progress. 

“It is clear that transformative leadership is required in South Carolina to resolve the daunting and frustrating issues the Department of Social Services faces,” McMaster said. “We need great leadership, and I think we’ve found it.”

Leach indicated he is open to new ideas to bolster and improve DSS.

“I’m looking for innovative approaches — for urgency,” Leach said. “I’m going to bring a lot of energy to this work, and I want bold leaders and bold ideas to make sure we move forward.”

Leach will succeed Susan Alford, an appointee of former Gov. Nikki Haley who took the job in 2015. Alford announced her retirement last year.

Leach will have to be confirmed by the state Senate.

We're improving out commenting experience.

We’ve temporarily removed comments from articles while we work on a new and better commenting experience. In the meantime, subscribers are encouraged to join the conversation on our Free Times Facebook page.