COLUMBIA -- It may get easier to find a good care facility for a vulnerable adult, under a bill that would create a registry of caregivers with criminal convictions for abuse, neglect or exploitation.
A Senate subcommittee has approved S. 343, a bill that would place an offender's name on the state's website.
"Ultimately we'd like both agencies and consumers to have this at their fingertips," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Columbia.
A vulnerable adult is someone who is impaired due to old age, brain damage, or physical, mental or emotional dysfunction.
"We want to put them in a safe and secure and caring environment, but you really don't know how to do that," said Jeff Moore, head of the Adult Protection Coordinating Council.
"You can go look at it and you can talk to people ... but you don't know if there have been cases where people have been abused."
The state already maintains a sex offenders registry that is searchable by the public and a child abusers registry that is not.
Sen. Shane Massey pushed to remove a portion of the bill that would place someone on the adult-abuse registry even if there were no criminal conviction, but simply substantiation by a state agency, such as the S.C. Department of Social Services.
"I do have a lot of concern about putting somebody on a list unless a court has signed off on it," said the Edgefield Republican.
"Our goal is to try to crawl before we walk," said Lourie. "If we could get the convictions posted... I think that's a good start."
But he and Sen. Jake Knotts, R-Lexington, both expressed doubts about the Budget and Control Board's $87,000 cost estimate to create and maintain the registry.
Added Lourie: "I could get my teenage son to put it on Yahoo if necessary."
Sarita Chourey can be reached at (803) 727-4257 or firstname.lastname@example.org.