DSS official responds to S.C. Senate panel

Jessica Hanak-Coulter, the deputy director of human services for the South Carolina Department of Social Services, addresses South Carolina state senators during a hearing in Columbia on Wednesday. A senate subcommittee has been looking into reported problems at the state agency that deals with the welfare of children and their families. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

COLUMBIA - The South Carolina Department of Social Services has dozens of unfilled caseworker positions and the State Law Enforcement Division could use more investigators to look into child deaths.

But a Senate subcommittee in Columbia was also told Wednesday that the number of children being adopted in the state is up 50 percent during the past three years. DSS says by working with community groups, it has been able to help more families in need of social services in recent years.

Wednesday's hearing was the second by a subcommittee investigating complaints about the agency. Last week the panel heard DSS was involved with the children or siblings of 58 of the 157 unexpected deaths of children investigated last year by SLED.