Family Court

Horry County DSS worker Charged with Misconduct in Death of Child

The most recent Department of Social Service scandal comes from Horry County, S.C..

A now former DSS employee, Amanda Marie Sutherland was arrested July 6th, 2021 and charged with misconduct resulting in the death of a child.

According to the arrest record Sutherland was assigned to investigate allegations of child abuse/neglect on April 21st, 2021 and was suppose to begin an investigation into these allegations within 24 hours after receiving the report.

14 days later, on May 5th, 2021 one of the children involved in the case died. A week later Sutherland created fictional records stating she has visited the home and interviewed the mother.

Authorities allege that Sutherland never met with the Mother or visited the home, nor did Sutherland ever begin an investigation of the alleged abuse/neglect. Furthermore, Sutherland used electronic case information to fabricate a more believable record, after the death of the child.

The Department of Social Services released this statement:

“The South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) is aware of the allegations against a former employee and is cooperating with SLED. DSS consistently collaborates with law enforcement and other agencies to investigate child maltreatment and fatalities in coordination with community partners. It is always a tragedy when a child dies as a result of a parent’s actions. In the last 5 years, South Carolina has averaged 11 fatalities per year due to trauma inflicted by a caregiver and 10 per year due to unsafe infant sleep. As a result of our own review of these circumstances, the individual who was arrested was separated from DSS employment on June 4, 2021. DSS has reviewed all the matters assigned to this individual to determine whether there is reason to believe any falsification of records has occurred in other cases and no further concerns have been identified.”

This statement would seem that the moment this information was found out by DSS they fired Sutherland only a month before her arrest. Also, it would appear that DSS is attempting to deflect the fact that their office has no safeguards in place to prevent this sort of actions by their staff.

The Department of Social Services has come under major fire the last few years concering their investigators and their case management practices.

As stated in the comment 11 children have died in the past 5 years due trauma inflicted by a caregiver (this includes foster caregivers, not only parents). It’s disturbing that they would also use statistics on SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) to deflect their offices mishandlings.

As informed to us by a former DSS worker several cases are closed after a simply phone call or are lost in the system. When an allegation of abuse or neglect is received normal practice is to call and involve Law Enforcement to join in the initial contact and investigation, but all too many times this is not done.

Over the past 10 years more and more cases arise showing the short comings of DSS investigations and misuse of their power. This has led investigations into allegations of DSS profiting by removing children or as sadly in this case a child’s death due to lack of proper investigations.

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