The Continuum of Care for Emotionally Disturbed Children was established by the South Carolina legislature in 1983 in order:
To demonstrate the feasibility of providing a full array of services, ranging from most to least restrictive,for children and youth with severe emotional disturbance (SED); and,
To serve as the basis for development of future state policy regarding services for such children and youth.
This legislation was the culmination of several years of intense advocacy by many individuals and groups who recognized that these children and adolescents with multiple problems and needs were not being adequately treated by the system of care in South Carolina.
The result was a three-year pilot project which targeted children between the ages of eleven and fourteen who were diagnosed as severely emotionally disturbed and who had “fallen through the cracks” of the existing service delivery system. During the three years of the pilot the Continuum’s administrative structure was established, client referral and selection procedures were initiated and services such as intensive case management, in-home treatment, psycho-educational classroom instruction, summer therapeutic recreation, a variety of individualized wrap around services, therapeutic foster care, high management group home care and comprehensive volunteer services were developed.
In 1984, the Legislature provided additional funds to the Continuum of Care through a contract with the South Carolina Department of Education for the purpose of enabling emotionally handicapped pupils to benefit from special education. The contract, which became effective in 1985 and has been renewed each year since that time, made sufficient funding available that client services could be provided on a statewide basis.
In 1986, at the end of the “pilot” phase of the Continuum’s existence, the Legislature established the Continuum of Care for Emotionally Disturbed Children as a permanent part of State government with a policy board composed of the heads of all child serving agencies in South Carolina. Three years later, in 1989, another legislative act changed the Continuum’s governing body to a policy board comprised of five (5) lay members, one from each of the Continuum’s five service delivery regions.
The 1993 session of the Legislature restructured state government. The restructuring sought to reduce the number of agencies and eliminate duplication while improving service delivery to citizens. Accountability, cost-effectiveness, and more executive authority were highlights within the act as passed. The Continuum became a division in the Governor’s Office as a result of this legislation and its governing authority became the Governor.
Between July 1994 and July 1996, in an effort to minimize a
budget deficit incurred by the South Carolina Department of Social
Services, the Continuum of Care took the lead in a legislated
demonstration project designed to address the needs of the
population of children with emotional disturbance who were in State
custody and in need of therapeutic residential care. The initiative
made the Continuum the primary case manager for those children, and
it resulted in the Continuum’s increasing its caseload by
approximately 400 percent and its staff size by 127 percent. The
effort was so successful that the Continuum’s service model, all
clients in the custody of the State and adequate staff to provide
case management and other services for the clients was transferred
to the Department of Social Services on July 1, 1996. The transfer
created the Managed Treatment Services (MTS) Division of DSS. It
also made the Continuum’s client population one that contains only
those children who are in the legal custody of their natural
families or other non-state guardians.