DSS to respond to concerns before Senate panel

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- The South Carolina Department of Social Services will respond to concerns about child welfare raised before state lawmakers.

      Last week a Senate subcommittee heard DSS was involved with the children or siblings of 58 of the 157 unexpected deaths of children investigated last year by the State Law Enforcement Division.

      Critics also testified DSS has a system of goals encouraging social workers to keep children out of foster care or remove them from such care even if it isn't the best thing to do.

      On Wednesday, DSS officials plan to respond before the Senate DSS Oversight Subcommittee.

      Agency officials say total child deaths have declined over the past three years and DSS will do everything possible to safeguard the state's children.