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DCS Review Update Highlights Shortages As Potential Challenge

Brandon Smith
IPB News

Independent consultants investigating the Department of Child Services have identified significant potential shortages in the agency.

The consultants’ second public update shows possible challenges in legal representation, worker qualifications, and services.

The independent group stresses feedback gathered so far doesn’t mean the problems identified are statewide issues. But consultant Sue Steib says they’ve seen a lack of services – particularly for substance abuse.

“This extends beyond just DCS," Steib says. "This is a resource issue that is not completely within the control of the department.”

READ MORE: Senate Committee Recommends Commission To Investigate DCS

Steib says there are also questions about case worker qualifications. Workers must have a bachelor’s degree and credit hours in DCS-related courses.

“Hearing some early input that people question whether or not that’s sufficient preparation,” Steib says.

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says he’s not surprised by possible challenges identified by the consultants.

Bosma says lawmakers already know about the issues highlighted in the latest update.

“What we also know is we have the proper statutory authority in place and, with the addition of $600 million over the last two years, we feel like there’s sufficient financial resources as well,” Bosma says.

Lawmakers will review the consultants’ final report when it’s released in June. House Minority Leader Terry Goodin (D-Austin) points out that’s well after the legislature adjourns for the year.

“If there is any chance that one child could be in jeopardy by any of their findings, I am going to demand that we come back for a special session and fix it,” Goodin says.

The consultants aren’t expected to release any more updates on their investigation before the final report.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.