A second state senator is now calling for Gov. Nikki Haley to remove the director of South Carolina’s child services agency.
Speaking to WTMA’s Tara Servatius on Wednesday, State Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, said she believed it was time for Haley to replace Department of Social Services director Lillian Koller, who is under fire for the agency’s handling of child abuse cases under their care.
The comments came one day after Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, called on the governor to remove Koller, citing unflattering new data from inside the agency. But Shealy’s position is perhaps more jarring. Lourie is a frequent critic of the Republican governor, while Shealy is considered a Haley ally. The governor even actively campaigned for Shealy against a fellow Republican in the 2012 election.
During Wednesday’s program, Servatius directly asked Shealy if it was time for Gov. Haley “to show (Koller) the door?”
“I think so,” the senator responded. “I have put it off and waited and waited and said it’s the governor’s decision to make that. But… it starts at the top.”
: Sen. Shealy says DSS chief should be replaced (4:18)
Shealy said she recently reached her decision after seeing internal DSS numbers that indicated a high percentage of reported child abuse and neglect cases were not investigated within 24 hours. She said the agency was also not regularly auditing or reviewing county offices as state law requires. DSS has previously disputed those points.
“I still support Gov. Haley, so let’s don’t make this political,” she added, but made it clear she was not happy with problems at DSS. Both Shealy and Lourie currently serve on a Senate oversight committee looking into reported problems at DSS.
But a spokesman for Gov. Haley stood by his comments from Tuesday, when he called Lourie’s demand “politically motivated.”
“(I)t won’t change these facts: under her leadership child deaths are down 25 percent, adoptions are up 11 percent, and DSS has provided more services statewide than ever before,” Doug Mayer said Tuesday in response to Lourie.
Shealy disputed the child fatality statistics, noting that statewide child deaths were down but the number of deaths with DSS involvement have been roughly the same since 2010.