Questions Rise After A Child Was Injured in State Care
CHARLESTON, SC (CAROLINE BALCHUNAS, WTAT-TV) — A 4-year-old boy in foster care was taken to MUSC this weekend after he was reportedly hit by a car. Now the child’s mother and father say they were prevented from visiting their son in the hospital because they voluntarily turned the boy over to DSS out of desperation.
James and Cristy Hollifield never imagined they’d be sitting outside MUSC on Monday. Last week, they were moving from Florida to North Carolina with their son William for a chance at a better life.
But 105 miles from their destination, their car broke down without a dollar to their names.
Three days later, things didn’t get better. A Columbia police officer suggested the couple voluntarily surrender their son to the Department of Social Services.
“If we did voluntary surrender we wouldn’t go to court and there wouldn’t be an investigation. Once we got our transportation situation situated, that they would just give us our son back and we could go home,” Hollifield said.
18 hours later, James said DSS called. Their son was hit by a car and sent to a Charleston hospital.
The agency drove the couple to Charleston but wouldn’t let them visit their son for more than a few minutes.
“You mean to tell me, that you’re going to call me up and tell me my son’s been hit, drive me two hours to my son’s hospital and tell me I can’t see him? Really?” Hollifield said.
Columbia police confirm the couple did not commit a crime. But the couple said they were treated like criminals.
“I just imagine what he’s going through, he’s only four,” Hollifield said. “He’s probably thinking his parents don’t even care.”
He says calls to DSS mostly went unanswered and it’s left them with a lot of questions.
“They made the statement that he was safer in their custody than ours,” Hollifield said. “Well, we’ve had him for four years and he’s been to the hospital twice, they had him 18 hours and he’s in the hospital having surgery.”
“I want my son back,” said Cristy. “I can’t take it anymore.”
We have learned the boy was staying with a foster family in St. George when the accident happened.
The St. George police chief said the boy was playing in a parking lot with some other kids when he darted in front of the car. They say he suffered a broken leg but no one will be charged.
The family says their son was taken back to Columbia after his release but he remains in state custody.
DSS officials say they are investigating the incident.