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Certified Investigators

What is a Certified Investigator (CI)?
A person who prepares investigations in adoption matters (prepare home studies for prospective adoptive families) and a person, except lawyers and judges, who take relinquishments and consents from birth parents planning adoption for their children, 

What does a Certified Investigator do?
The Adoption Act delegates to CI the responsibility for pre-placement investigations of prospective adoptive parents (home study).  The CI will visit the prospective adoptive parents’ home to ensure the home meets the state requirements to be an approved adoptive family.  The CI will evaluate the prospective adoptive parent’s emotional maturity, finances, health and relationships.  The CI will have in depth discussions with the prospective adoptive parents I regarding their expectations and preferences for the child they hope to adopt.

Another aspect of the CI is the delicate, vital responsibility for counseling birth parents as they contemplate adoption.  In both public and private domestic adoptions, counseling is essential to a successful adoption, for parents who are considering placing a child for adoption.  

Who Licenses a Certified Investigator and What is the Licensing Agent’s Responsibility?
DSS is tasked with: certification of investigators; issuance, monitoring, and revocation of certificates; and sanctioning of noncompliance. DSS must also approve the fee that the CI plans to charge to perform their required duties to ensure that does not exceed the reasonable costs of the services rendered during the certification process. DSS shall develop, revise, and publish quarterly a directory of all Certified Investigators.

Active Certified Investigators

Qualifications to be a Certified Investigator?
The South Carolina Department of Social Services Code of Regulations (, Chapter 114, Article 43, 114-4370 (B)) lists the qualifications to be a licensed Certified Investigator.

How do I apply to become a Certified Investigator?

DSS-State Office Adoptions
PO Box 1520
Columbia SC 29204

I am a licensed Certified Investigator, are there any requirements to keep my licensure?
Yes, Certified Investigator’s are renewed on a yearly basis.  In order to keep your certification you must completed 10 hours of adoption related training, submit your renewal application, fees, and complete the required background checks.  All renewals should be submitted to at minimum 60 days prior to expiration.

Does DSS use independent Certified Investigator’s to Complete Adoption Home Studies?
Even though all DSS Adoption Specialist are Certified Investigators there is a need for independent Certified Investigators to assist in completing adoption home studies.  In order for an independent Certified Investigator to be able to conduct a home study for DSS they must be on the current contract that is currently with SC Division of Procurement Services (Procurement Services ( 


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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.