DSS oversight places boy with felon uncle

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ROCK HILL, S.C. — York County Department of Social Services officials placed an 8-year-old boy in the care of his uncle without doing a comprehensive background check that likely would have shown he was a convicted felon.

The boy’s uncle was charged five months later with abusing the child, The Herald of Rock Hill reports.

DSS workers agreed on a safety plan in May to place the boy in his uncle’s care after someone noticed bruises on his arms and back. The boy told authorities that his father had beaten him. The newspaper didn’t name the dad or uncle because it did not want to identify the boy.

A DSS worker should always do criminal background checks using local, state and federal records when placing a child, but the worker in the boy’s case only checked local records, missing a 1995 charge of assault and battery with intent to kill conviction against the uncle, authorities said. The uncle was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

In October, the uncle was charged with abusing the boy after marks were found on the child’s head.

DSS policy prevents children from being placed in a home where someone has a criminal record unless the charge has been expunged or the crime has absolutely no bearing on how someone would take care of a child, DSS spokeswoman Marilyn Matheus said.

The state began investigating DSS and its role with the boy after the newspaper started asking questions.

The boy is back in the custody of his parents after they agreed to take certain steps to protect the child’s safety, Matheus said.


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