Registry to track bad babysitters in South Carolina riddled with red tape

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The South Carolina child abuse registry is run by the Department of Social Services, and was created by state lawmakers back in the 1980's.

But you can't search it without special permission.

"You have to have consent from the person you investigate," said Dr. Don Elsey with Dee Norton Lowcountry Children's Center.

You read that right.

State law prevents the public from getting on the registry, unless they follow certain steps.

If you want to find out if your babysitter is on there, you need written permission from the caregiver you're checking out.

"They have the person they want to check sign a release form that is sent to DSS in Columbia, and Columbia returns with either they're on the registry or they're not on the registry," said Dr. Elsey.

And it's not free. Depending on who is doing the background check, it will cost anywhere from $8 to $25 to find out.

"I think that the fact that anyone can access it, as long as they get permission, I think that's really helpful," said Dr. Elsey.

It's a lot more difficult than accessing the state's sex offender registry which is run by the South Carolina law enforcement division.

That registry is free and anyone can go on it to find out if a convicted sex offender lives in their neighborhood.

"A lot of people look at the sex offender registry and think whew, I'm good to go and that is one area," said Dr. Elsey.

"But it's not all areas where someone could possibly be found to be unsafe."

So if you want to find out if your babysitter is a child abuser, you may want to check the central registry. But remember, you need the sitter's written signature to find out.

If the sitter says no, that should be a sign for you to look for someone else.

WBTV also found out you don't have to be convicted of child abuse to wind up in the central registry. If a judge decides there's enough evidence to show there was some kind of abuse, that person may also be put on the registry.

North Carolina's child abuse registry is similar to that of South Carolina's.

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