Note to Researchers

Requests for research and/or access to data for research purposes

Researchers should be aware that access to information pertaining to DSS clients is governed by state and Federal laws and regulations.

All requests for access to agency data for research purposes must be submitted to:
     Director, South Carolina Department of Social Services
     P. O. Box 1520
     Columbia, S. C., 29202-1520
     ATTN: Diana Tester.

E-mail requests are permissible; direct e-mails to:

Researchers must receive permission from the SCDSS director in order to engage in research or evaluation projects involving or using agency data, and such permission is required whether the project is initiated internally or externally.

"Agency data" includes "client information" and refers to all information maintained in paper or electronic records within all SCDSS agency programs regarding clients who are either currently receiving services or who have ever received services. "Agency data" also refers to data extracts drawn from client databases and to data provided in statistical and/or aggregate form. SCDSS will charge researchers for data extracts if programming time is required to provide the requested information.

DSS regulations require that researchers must include the following information in their application: a description of their professional qualifications, identification of any research assistants, a description of the project and field of study in which they are engaged, and reasons for requesting access to the requested data as well as requested dates of access.

Please note that failure to obtain the requisite permission to access data prior to obtaining grant funding and/or initiation of research does not require SCDSS to grant permission after the fact. It is strongly recommended that investigators who are applying for grant funds to fund their research submit their requests for data to the SCDSS Director in advance of their applications to the funding organization.

DSS will provide approved researchers with a letter stating that the researcher has followed the appropriate procedures to access DSS data for the grant application process.

Child Welfare Services Transformation

Best Outcomes for Children and Families

Do you have a complaint regarding services being provided to a child by a state agency? Please submit your complaint by phone (1-800-206-1957) or an electronic submission form here with the South Carolina Department of Children's Advocacy.