The federal Children's Justice Act provides grants to states for the development and operation of programs designed to improve the handling of child abuse and neglect cases, the handling of suspected maltreatment related fatalities, and the investigation and prosecution of child abuse and neglect. Cases involving child sexual abuse or exploitation are a particular emphasis. Funds may be utilized for programs designed to improve the investigative, administrative, and judicial handling of child abuse and neglect cases; experimental, model, or demonstration programs; and reform of state laws and procedures.
To be eligible for these funds, states must establish and continue a multidisciplinary task force which is charged with the development and implementation of recommendations in the areas described above. A task force was convened in South Carolina in 1994 by the Department of Social Services, which became grantee for the funds. A wide range of disciplines are represented on the task force. Members are elected or re-elected by the Task Force to fill these slots at three-year intervals.
The Department of Social Services contracted with the University of South Carolina to establish the Children's Law Center, in accordance with the task force's recommendation. The Children's Law Center is administered by the University of South Carolina Joseph F. Rice School of Law. The Children's Justice Act grant provides a portion of the project's support.
The Task Force conducts an assessment of the state's systems every three years and adopts recommendations designed to improve the handling of child abuse and neglect cases in South Carolina. Work toward implementation of these recommendations continues through the task force and its committees.