Michelle H Class Action Lawsuit Update

Michelle H Class Action Lawsuit Update

The South Carolina Department of Social Services is improving the way child welfare services are organized and delivered to children in foster care. The agency has made consistent strides over the last several years to effect systemic reform, with emphasis on improvements in the areas of hiring, retention and caseload management. Many of those efforts are in response to the goals established by the Michelle H. lawsuit settlement agreement, under federal monitoring. Our work toward these goals also aligns with federal benchmarks set by the USDHHS Administration for Children and Families and the new legislative requirements of the Family First Prevention Services Act. All in all, SCDSS is focused on improving services to children and families. Here are just some of the important outcomes:

  • A new workforce developer has been hired to lead focused work recruitment and retention of highly qualified caseworkers.
  • Multiple program implementation plans have been developed and approved by the federal courts.
  • New partnerships are forming with SC public colleges and universities to create employment pipelines for social work majors.
  • Nurse coordinators and managers are being hired for statewide support to case managers to address the medical needs of children in foster care.
  • From January 2019 to October 2019, the agency improved referrals to Baby Net by more than 60%, which means better care for infants and toddlers under age three with developmental delays.
  • Licensure of kinship caregivers is increasing and new regulations, effective in September, allows issuance of provisional licenses for emergency kinship placements.
  • Over 600 case managers, supervisors and legal staff completed Visitation Awareness Training focused on improving practices related to facilitating family visits for children in foster care.

The Department’s most recent report to federal court Judge Richard Gergel also identifies several large-scale areas in which the agency needs to show continued improvement of its longstanding challenges, including turnover and training for investigators and caseworkers, a more comprehensive plan for group home placements and continued need for increased federal and state financial support.

View more information posted on our website, specific to the Michelle H. Settlement Agreement.


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.