State's lack of DSS program costs taxpayers $71.5M in fines -, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

State's lack of DSS program costs taxpayers $71.5M in fines

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A WIS Investigation finds child abuse cases aren't the only area where the state's Social Services Department has fallen behind. South Carolina remains the only state in the nation without a certified Child Support Enforcement program.

What does it cost you, the taxpayer? About $71.5 million in fines.

This started when our attention was called to a half dozen civil complaints filed by former employees against director Lillian Koller and DSS. 

Out of that came questions about why the state isn't complying with federal guidelines? The best the state can tell us is they're working on it. We found out today, they've been doing that for at least 7 years.

"We're working as quickly as we can to retain federal certification for our Child Support Enforcement system," said Katie Morgan, DSS' Child Support Enforcement director.

Why isn't the state able to meet paperwork and online requirements? Morgan says the state has struggled with an independent contractor hired to run the program. It's been bought out several times -- most recently by Hewlett Packard.

"We extended the contract three times and our last when we through we were going to have to extend we said you know, at this point we just need to hold the contractor accountable and we terminated that contract," said Morgan.

But it's cost you the taxpayer, in fines and penalties that topped out at over $104,000,000 at the end of 2012, making the state ineligible for any federal assistance.

"Of that, HP has paid $33 million," said Morgan.

The fines leave taxpayers with a more than $70 million bill. Despite the program's struggles, the state collected $255 million for children in the last year.

"We beat all of our performance standards for the federal government's performance standards for paternity establishment, for current case collections, for collections on arrears and for cost effectiveness," said Morgan.

Those goals came through various ways of enforcement.

"We're able to garnish wages for folks through federal tax offset, state tax offset unemployment benefits, we're able to do wage withholding, we're able to hold non-custodial parents in contempt of court," said Morgan.

DSS had an executive committee meeting on this issue Monday afternoon. They're reviewing the current system left by Hewlett Packard and hope to have some recommendation by the end of summer. We'll continue to follow this issue.

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