South Carolina DSS launches new campaign, highlights Daniel’s Law

Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 6:20 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2023 at 5:50 AM EDT
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SOUTH CAROLINA (WMBF) - The South Carolina Department of Social Services is launching a new campaign highlighting some of its services, including information about Daniel’s Law.

According to officials from SCDSS, as well as doctors, it is important for mothers to know that Daniel’s Law, which allows mothers to safely surrender babies under 60 days old without penalty, is an option.

“It’s a courageous choice, not only for her and her future but a future for that child, as well as for a family that’s going to be able to adopt that child,” said Connelly-Anne Ragley, chief external affairs officer at the South Carolina DSS.

Passed in 2001, Daniel’s Law designates churches, hospitals, and law enforcement buildings as safe surrender areas. Chief Medical Officer of Conway Medical Center, Dr. Paul Richardson, said a safe surrender has never happened at CMC, but staff are ready in case it does.

“We have all the necessary paperwork, we have the folks who are well versed in doing that, should that happen in order for us to get the necessary information from the parents and then be able to contact DSS,” said Richardson.

Last week, an infant in the Pee Dee was surrendered at McLeod Regional Medical Center in Marion County under Daniel’s Law. It was the third child to be surrendered in ten days under the law, bringing the total so far this year to seven. That’s the same number of babies that were surrendered last year, and tied for the highest since the state started tracking in 2009.

After a baby is surrendered, he or she is in DSS custody and will be placed in foster care.

“We do believe by sharing information, that will hopefully reach a mother that feels like they have no other options and might be in a crisis situation,” said Ragley.

Ragley also brought up an incident last month, when 21-year-old Britney Wheatle allegedly left her newborn baby in the bushes in North Myrtle Beach. Ragley said if had she known Daniel’s Law was an option, she may have made a different choice, and said this makes the DSS campaign all the more important.

“We would hope that before a parent would choose to do something like leave a baby somewhere, they would bring it here, or somewhere to keep that child safe,” said Richardson.