COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster today nominated Michael Leach to be the next director of the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS). Leach, a trained mental health clinician, has over 10 years of experience in Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services (DCS) and has most recently served as the Deputy Commissioner for Child Programs at the agency.
To watch video of the governor’s announcement, click here.
“This is a very important day,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “It is clear that transformative leadership is required in South Carolina to resolve the daunting and frustrating issues that the Department of Social Services faces, and has faced, while striving to deliver positive solutions to many not so positive situations.”
Prior to being named deputy commissioner, Leach served as the executive director of DCS’ Office of Continuous Quality Improvement, leading the Risk Management and Internal Audit divisions of the agency.
“I look forward to being part of the DSS family and working alongside the DSS professionals, the foster parents, and our providers,” Leach said. “There is so much we can do to strengthen our children, our families, our adults, and I look forward to being part of the team that does that moving forward.”
“The inclusion of stakeholders by the governor, I believe, has made the appointee that much stronger, so thank you for taking this unprecedented step that no doubt will help build ownership within child welfare,” said Senator Katrina Shealy, Chair of the Senate subcommittee that will begin the confirmation process. “Michael Leach has an outstanding track record of reform and quality improvement throughout his career.”
“We look forward to the Senate confirming Mr. Leach, and we look forward to working with him, because the Department of Social Services touches every family in South Carolina in one way or another,” said Representative Gary Clary. “We look forward to a long and successful tenure here in South Carolina. Congratulations, Michael.”
Leach’s appointment comes following former SCDSS Director Susan Alford’s retirement in July of 2018 and after an exhaustive search process beginning when Governor McMaster formed an advisory panel consisting of members of the General Assembly and various stakeholders to develop a set of qualifications, skills, and experience needed for the next director.
Current Acting Director Joan Meacham will continue serving until such a time that the South Carolina Senate confirms Mr. Leach. Leach, 39, is married with one child.