Protection of Children's Rights

Protection of Children's Rights

LWVSC supports funding adequate personnel, facilities, and training at all levels of government in order to meet the needs of children and their families, and a juvenile justice system that has as its primary purpose the rehabilitation, safety, and well-being of the offender.

1.  Expansion of the supply of affordable licensed and quality child care for all who need it in order to increase access to employment, to prevent and reduce poverty, and to better prepare children for a lifetime of learning, while keeping it affordable for families.

            a.  The state should require that all child care homes in the state that are regulated by the SC Department of Social Services (SCDSS) meet, at a minimum, licensing regulations.

            b.  The state should adopt a system that rates levels of quality in a manner more reflective of quality and more easily understood by policy makers and public.

            c.  SCDSS child care center licensing regulations should be changed to include limitations on group size (the number of children in a room) and lower child-to staff ratios.

            d.  The state should initiate a campaign to inform employers about the benefits of employer-supported child care, and the tax credits available to them.

            e.  The state should follow Head Start’s lead and target a date by which all, or a portion of,  child care staff will have an Associate Degree in Early Childhood.

            f.  The state should investigate offering a state-sponsored health benefits plan to all child care workers.

            g.  State agencies should provide child care facilities for their employees’ children.

            h.  In order for the legislature to understand the importance of these proposals and provide necessary support, efforts must be made to educate them about the importance of quality child care.

            i.  Services and policies that ensure that all children are free from abuse and neglect.

            j.  Services and polices that ensure children’s physical, emotional, educational, and health needs are met.

            k.  Services and policies that ensure timely, permanent and appropriate placement for children in State custody and ensure timely placement in pre-adoptive homes.

2.  The Children’s Policy of South Carolina (Section 20-7-20 of the Children’s Code) which consists of the following:

            a.  A children’s policy is hereby established by this state.

            b.   This policy shall be interpreted in conjunction with all relevant laws and regulations and shall apply to all children who have need of services including, but not limited to, those mentally, socially, emotionally, physically, developmentally, culturally, educationally, and economically disadvantaged or handicapped, those dependent, neglected, abused or exploited, and those who by their circumstance or action violate the laws of the state and are found to be in need of treatment or rehabilitation.

            c.  It shall be the policy of this state to concentrate on the prevention of children’s problems as the most important strategy that can be planned and implemented on behalf of children and their families. The state shall encourage community involvement in the      provision of children’s services including, as an integral part, local government public and private voluntary groups, public and private non-profit groups and private-for-profit groups in order to encourage and provide innovative strategies for children’s services. To maximize resources in providing services to children in need, all agencies providing services to children shall develop methods to coordinate their services and resources. For children with multiple needs, the furtherance of this policy requires all children’s services agencies to recognize that their jurisdiction in meeting these children’s needs is not mutually exclusive.  Support the implementation of an automated system for child support enforcement.

            d.  When children or their families request help, state and local government resources shall be utilized to complement community efforts to help meet the needs of children by aiding in the prevention and resolution of their problems. The state shall direct its efforts first to strengthen and encourage family life as the most appropriate environment for the care and nurturing of children. To this end, the state shall assist and encourage families to utilize all available resources. For children in need of services, care and guidance, the state shall secure those services as are needed to serve the emotional, mental, and physical welfare of children and the best interest of the community, preferably in their homes or the least restrictive environment possible. When children must be placed in care away from their homes, the state shall ensure that they are protected against any harmful effects resulting from the temporary or permanent inability of parents to provide care and protection for their children. It is the policy of this state to reunite the child with its family in a timely manner, whether or not the child has been placed in the care of the state voluntarily. When children must be permanently removed from their homes, they shall be placed in adoptive homes so that they may become members of a family by legal adoption or, absent that possibility, other permanent settings.

            e.  The children’s policy provided for in this article shall be implemented through the cooperate efforts of state, county, and municipal legislation, judicial and executive branches, as well as other public and private resources. Where resources are limited, services shall be targeted to those children in greatest need.

            f.  In order to carry out this policy each state agency, department, institution, committee and commission which is concerned or responsible for children shall submit, as a part of its annual budget request, a comprehensive statement of how its program contributed to the implementation of this policy. This statement shall include, but not be limited to, a listing of programs and how they are placed in priority and a summary of the expenses incurred for the administration of children’s services.

Related national position: Social Policy, Meeting Basic Human Needs

3.  A juvenile justice system that:

            a.  has as its primary purpose the rehabilitation, safety and well-being of the offender.

            b.  promotes the juvenile’s understanding of the harm done and his/her responsibility to make amends to the victim and the community, emphasizes alternatives to detention or commitment, and promotes the protection of the community and the juvenile’s successful re-entry into the community.

            c.  includes prevention and early intervention programs, programs that are age and gender appropriate, a variety of services including mental health, counseling, and vocational and educational services, and family and community involvement, including positive parenting programs.

            d.  has adequate funding and appropriately trained staff for programs and frequent and thorough oversight and evaluation of staff, programs and facilities, both public and private.

            e.  ensures fair and impartial treatment of all offenders and early assessment of the needs of the juveniles

            f.  reserves the option of charging juveniles as adults, particularly the younger ones, for the most heinous crimes and only as a last resort.

Related national positions: Social Policy, Meeting Basic Human Needs

Background/Action:   LWVSC conventions in 1995 and 1997 called for revisiting and revising an older position on child welfare that had been adopted in the 1970s. A revised draft was offered at the 1999 convention, but delegates voted to retain the existing Child Welfare position until local Leagues could study and respond to the proposed revision. The LWVSC Board approved revised wording and agreed to accept the recommendation from the Child Welfare group to focus on studying child care services in the following year. The consensus on child-care services was approved at State Council in 2002. The 2009 LWVSC convention expanded Item #4 to specify that, for a child in state custody, placement should be appropriate and in the best interest of the child. In 2015 “educational” was added to the needs specified in number 3. In 2002-3, a task force studied Juvenile Justice and recommended that we concur with the Colorado League position. The approval of this position was completed in November 2003 and “Juvenile Justice” was added to the corrections position. In 2015 Criminal and Juvenile Justice were separated and in 2019 Juvenile Justice joined Child Welfare under the umbrella position of Protection of Children’s Rights.