The South Carolina Department for Children’s Advocacy (DCA) was established by Act 160 of the South Carolina General Assembly, effective July 1, 2019. The South Carolina Department for Children’s Advocacy is an independent state agency charged with ensuring that children across South Carolina receive adequate protection and care from services or programs related to the welfare of children offered by the following departments within state government:
- Department of Social Services
- Department of Mental Health
- Department of Juvenile Justice
- Department of Health and Environmental Control
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Disabilities and Special Needs
- John de la Howe School
- School for the Deaf and the Blind
- Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School
The department is led by Director and State Child Advocate Amanda Whittle. Click here to meet the state child advocate.
The South Carolina Department for Children’s Advocacy is comprised of three divisions as it administers the following programs/divisions:
- Cass Elias McCarter Guardian ad Litem Program
- Foster Care Review Board
- Continuum of Care for Emotionally Disturbed Children
Primary Agency Responsibilities
The Department of Children's Advocacy (DCA) will:
1) Ensure that children under the care of a state agency, particularly children served by the child welfare or juvenile justice systems, receive timely, safe, and effective services and safeguard the health, safety and well-being of all children receiving services.
2) Examine, on a system-wide basis, the care and services that state agencies provide children and provide recommendations to improve the quality of those services in order to give each child the opportunity to live a full and productive life.
3) Develop and promote a broad vision for reform, driven by the values and goals of child-serving agencies, to make the services and programs provided by state agencies more effective for children, youth, families and communities.
4) Receive and investigate complaints related to the provision of services to children by a state agency. The DCA receives, reviews and monitors the complaints that reasonably cause the department to believe that a child may be in need of assistance, ensures that the complaints are resolved, and may conduct an independent investigation of a complaint if necessary.
5) Receive and investigate complaints from children in the care of the State. The DCA assists such children in resolving problems and concerns associated with their placement and plans for lifelong adult connections and independent living. The department also ensures that relevant state agencies have been alerted to the complaints, and helps facilitate intra-agency cooperation when needed.
6) Undertake activities designed to educate the public regarding the services and the independent role of the department, along with the mission of state agencies in providing services to children and families.
7) Annually submit a report to the Governor, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children detailing the State Child Advocate's activities.
8) Have access at any (at all reasonable times) facility, residence, program, or portion thereof that is operated, licensed, or funded by a state agency and have unrestricted access to all electronic information systems records, reports, materials and employees in order to better understand the needs of children in the custody of the state or children who are receiving services from a state agency. The Department of Children's Advocacy also has access to relevant records held by the related clerks courts with the right to inspect and copy applicable records without cost.
9) Receive and possibly investigate critical incidents reported to the DCA from state agencies providing programs and services relating to the welfare of children.
10) Serve as a State Child Fatality Committee member - the DCA director/State Child Advocate - in identifying patterns in child fatalities that help guide efforts by agencies, communities and individuals to decrease the number of preventable child deaths and increase public awareness.
Advocacy. Accountability. Service.