The South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs is being investigated due to allegations that claim mentally and physically disabled clients have been abused. This investigation is being headed by the state Legislative Audit Council. This investigation was approved by the council last week after state lawmakers submitted a list of 20 questions asking about possible abuse last spring.
The lawmakers who raised these questions will be contacted by Audit Council Director Perry Simpson and his staff. The audit is expected to take nine months to complete as the Audit Council attempts to review the validity of the accusations being made.
The audit is a follow-up to one done a few years ago says Department of Disabilities and Special Needs spokeswoman Lois Park Mole.
One of those who wanted the inquiry is former state Sen. David Thomas, a Greenville Republican who said concerns were raised by both family members and department workers. He said there have been a lot of questions about the agency and wanted to clear the table of all allegations.
State Rep. Gary Simrill, R-York, is one of the five lawmakers who signed the original audit request. He says he has received complaints from constituents and the audit should help to prove or disprove them.
The latest accountability report from the department says the agency serves more than 32,000 people who have intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.
About 85 percent of those served live at home or with family, compared to 52 percent nationally.
The department has 1,900 employees. Its residential centers providing 24-hour care include the Coastal Center, the Midlands Center, Pee Dee Center and Whitten Center.
Last spring, the department conducted a series of eight sessions with family members, providers and advocates. "Stakeholders generally believe that the DDSN system works well," the report said.
At George Sink Injury Lawyers, our firm has a fast growing practice in handling Social Security disabilities cases for the mentally and physically disabled. As an advocate for persons with disabilities, I am urging the state to move forward with a quick and thorough investigation. The citizens of South Carolina need to know whether these allegations are true or false, and I am pressing our representatives to right any wrongs that may have been committed and pressing the Audit Council for a fast and exhaustive inquiry in this matter.