Mary Beth Bonaventura

DCS Director Terry Stigdon, at left, and Gov. Eric Holcomb, right, discuss an independent evaluation of the embattled state agency. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)
Brandon Smith

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Monday he'll spend $25 million from the state's surplus to help implement an independent evaluator’s recommended changes for the Department of Child Services.

Action on those changes comes after years of the state ignoring previous recommendations for the embattled agency.

An independent consultant’s evaluation of the Department of Child Services has taken small steps in its first month on the ground. The consultant delivered its first progress report on the assessment Thursday – an update that’s yielded more questions than answers.

The evaluation of DCS began Jan. 2 and consultant Sue Steib says it’s expected to end in June. Steib says her group has already identified an agency issue: an ineffective data system.

Republican legislative leaders indicated Wednesday they will likely not take any significant action in the 2018 session to address issues at the Department of Child Services.

Democrats want the General Assembly to exert its oversight authority on the embattled child welfare agency.

DCS Chief, Holcomb Disagree On Agency Funding Levels

Dec 18, 2017

 

Indiana Department of Child Services Director Mary Beth Bonaventura says the well-being of Hoosier children has been put at risk because of steps taken by Governor Eric Holcomb’s administration.

Bonaventura’s sharp criticisms came in her resignation letter, delivered to Holcomb last week.

Foster Families Needed For Children In Indiana

Nov 1, 2017

The need for adoptive parents is growing in Indiana. The link between cases coming through the Department of Child Services and substance abuse disorders is direct.

So far this year DCS has completed more than 1,800 adoptions, up from a little more than 1,000 three years ago. This follows a sharp increase in the number of Hoosier children entering the foster system because parents are unable to care for them, often because of opioids.

Indiana DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura says awareness of the need for foster to adopt families is imperative.

Barbara Harrington / http://indianapublicmedia.org/news/author/bjharrin/

More than two weeks after the first meeting of  Governor Mike Pence’s drug abuse task force, the governor is ordering state agencies to begin implementing some of the group’s initial recommendations.  

One of the drug task force’s initial recommendations urged the state to seek broader Medicaid coverage for drug treatment.  Governor Mike Pence is now directing the Family and Social Services Administration to determine the feasibility of that recommendation. 

Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

The Department of Child Services’ caseload is up a quarter over last year.  So the state is responding by hiring more than a hundred new caseworkers.

State law sets a standard for the average number of cases each DCS employee should be handling at one time.  The vast majority of the department’s regions have been out of compliance for years. 

The state responded earlier this year by hiring 100 new caseworkers and 17 supervisors -- but DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura says since then, there’s been a spike in demand.