COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WBTW) – South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has nominated Michael Leach, of Tennessee, to head the state’s child welfare agency after what he called an “exhaustive and inclusive” nationwide search.
Leach has been selected to head the Department of Social Services. McMaster announced his appointment Wednesday morning at the Statehouse. The position became vacant last year when the previous director retired.
Leach is a mental health clinician and has more than 10 years of experience with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. McMaster said the appointment is a transformative move for the department and said the agency serves the most critical functions of the state.
The governor’s office said acting director Joan Meacham will continue leading the agency until Leach’s appointment is confirmed by the Senate.
“I look forward to being part of the DSS family and working alongside the DSS professionals, the foster parents, and our providers,” Leach said in a press release from the Office of the Governor. “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, in the release. “Michael Leach has an outstanding track record of reform and quality improvement throughout his career.”