GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA)- Victoria Rose Smith would have turned four on Saturday. Her foster parents, who were in the process of adopting her, are accused of homicide in her death.
The child’s birth family is pushing for changes to be made at the Department of Social Services. A spokesperson for DSS told 7News the background check on the family that was trying to adopt her revealed no indication they would kill a child in their care.
Michelle Urps has made it her mission to make sure that what happened to her great-neice, Victoria Rose Smith, dosen’t happen to anyone else.
“This one hit home,” Urps said.
Soon after the little girl’s death, Urps created a petition calling the state of South Carolina to pass a bill called “Victoria’s Law” that would reform the current screening process for foster and adoptive parents. S.C. Rep. Bill Chumley says he is working on that effort.
“I told him our story and what was going on and asked if there was anything he could do, and he said that he would be happy to help us,” Urps said.
Urps wants more oversight of those fostering or adopting children and more resources for parents who are trying to regain custody.
Brenda Parks, who is now the director of foster care at Miracle Hill Ministries, worked for DSS vetting families for decades. She said vetting is pretty extensive, and home visits are required monthly.
“A certified investigator is assigned to work with the family, to inquire about their financial, their medical stability, their physical residence, references,” Parks said.
A 2020 DSS report in Greenville County found of that out of 20 cases surveyed, the department made concerted efforts to assess and address child risk safety concerns in only 30 percent of them.
“There is no room for error in this system,” Urps said. “This is the system that cannot fail.”
In a statement, a spokesperson said the DSS professionals who worked with Victoria’s family mourned the tragic and senseless loss of her vibrant life. They said those who work at DSS devote their lives to preventing and confronting child abuse, and “we believe the blame for homicide lies solidly and solely with the criminal child killers, rather than the people who are trying to help children and families affected by abuse.”
Rep. Chumley said law enforcement and DSS investigations into this care are still underway, and he’s going to wait for those to be completed before proposing any specific reforms.