Palmetto Sunrise: Senators touch on DSS during media preview day

The South Carolina Statehouse Photographed May 12, 2014. Grace Beahm/Staff

COLUMBIA - Providing more money for staff and resources at the Department and Social Services was among the issues that surfaced Thursday, when several lawmakers gathered for a workshop with the media.

Some of South Carolina's Senators and House members attended legislative preview day for members of the media hosted by the South Carolina Press Association on Thursday at the Statehouse.

Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Columbia, who has been critical of DSS and its former chief Lillian Koller in the past, said he hopes lawmakers will have further reformed and provided more funding for the child welfare agency by the time session ends.

"It does start, really if you have to boil it down, it's about leadership at the agency," Lourie said. "And it's about the caseworker."

He called for competitive salaries, better training and manageable caseloads for caseworkers to reduce turnover at the agency.

Sen. Thomas Alexander, R- Walhalla, said the General Assembly will have to look at providing a plan that's "workable and doable" to address the agency's needs.

"We may not be able to do all that the Department of Social Services is asking for in one year, but obviously they need additional staff to address this issue," Alexander said. "It's a matter of getting them in and getting them trained."

Gov. Nikki Haley has nominated Susan Alford - who has been director of the Youth Learning Institute's Girls Center at Clemson University, which serves as a resource for programs that address issues young girls face - to lead DSS.

In the meantime, the Senate's DSS Oversight Subcommittee, a panel Lourie serves on, is expected to produce a report on how to improve the embattled child welfare agency come Tuesday, when session kicks off.

During the workshop, Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill, also laid out a transportation plan to fix the state's crumbling roads.

In other news:

DHEC Director Catherine Templeton resigns from agency (The Post and Courier)

Acting juvenile justice director picked for post (The Associated Press)

Residents sound off on taxes, schools, roads (The Greenville News)

Duncan not targeted for Boehner move (The Post and Courier)

'Confederate Cuban' won't speak to S.C. Tea Party convention (The Post and Courier)

Prosecution rests in murder trial of former Eutawville police chief (The Post and Courier)

U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether to review gay marriage case (The Post and Courier)