Have ideas on how to help South Carolina’s children? Committee wants to hear them.

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 8:43 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2022 at 12:24 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - If you have an idea on how to make South Carolina better for its children or concerns about issues affecting them, your opinion is wanted.

The Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children is traveling around the state for its annual fall tour, starting next week, and is inviting South Carolinians to speak with them.

The panel, more commonly known as the Children’s Committee, is made up of a bipartisan group of six lawmakers — three from the state’s House of Representatives and three from the Senate — along with three citizens appointed by the governor and the heads of statewide agencies, including the Department of Mental Health, Department of Social Services, Department of Juvenile Justice, and Department of Education.

The feedback they have received during these hearings in past years had led to new laws at the State House.

“If whatever you’re talking about has merit, you have the opportunity to change legislation in South Carolina,” Sen. Katrina Shealy, R – Lexington and a committee member, said.

In recent years, the committee’s work has resulted in legislation to improve South Carolina’s adoption and fostering processes, put more regulations around vaping and offer paid family leave to state employees.

“What the committee’s charged with is to really address issues that affect children in the state of South Carolina,” Rep. Beth Bernstein, D – Richland, and a committee member, said. “It’s an opportunity for you to express concerns that you may have that are really relevant to what this committee’s charged with doing, and it might be an issue that we’re not even aware of.”

While most of the committee’s meetings during the year take place on State House grounds in Columbia, its fall hearing schedule gives members the chance to hear from more South Carolinians in other parts of the state.

The public hearings begin next Tuesday in Florence, followed by one in North Charleston on Sept. 22, in Greenville on Sept. 29, and two in Columbia on Oct. 12.

Any South Carolinian can come out to share their concerns or ideas for helping the state’s kids and families.

“We take that and evaluate it, and then we look toward how we can help in those areas, and then we try to craft legislation,” Bernstein said.

“And that way, we can have people working on it on both sides of the aisle,” Shealy added.

People can sign up to speak for up to five minutes at each meeting by emailing comments@mailbox.sc.edu. They can also send written comments to that email address.

The deadline to submit written testimony is Oct. 14.

“There are children all over the state that need our help, so we need to hear what would be beneficial for every child in South Carolina,” Shealy said.

Times/locations for Children’s Committee 2022 Fall Hearings:

  • Florence: Sept. 20, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Francis Marion University, Robert E. McNair Science Building, Chapman Auditorium (4800 Dr. Heyward Dr.)
  • North Charleston: Sept. 22, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Charleston County Council Chambers (4045 Bridge View Dr.)
  • Greenville: Sept. 29, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Greenville County Council Chambers (301 University Ridge)
  • Columbia: Oct. 12, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Gressette Building, Room 105 (State House grounds)