caseworkers

Indiana Department of Child Services / http://www.in.gov/dcs/files/DCSLog150.jpg

Indiana’s Department of Child Services says it’s doing all it can to comply with caseload requirements in state law and that a court can’t order it to do more.

Lawyers for the agency made that case Wednesday before the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Indiana law says the Department of Child Services must provide enough caseworkers so that the average caseload doesn’t exceed 17 children.

All but one of the 19 regions in the state exceeds that standard. Caseworker Mary Price oversees 43 children.

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.

Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) says the test of Governor Pence‘s call to beef up the Department of Child Services won‘t be what ends up in the budget, but whether all the money is actually spent.

Pence quickly embraced an independent review‘s recommendation this week to hire nearly 120 new DCS case managers and supervisors, and asked budgeters to include an additional $7.5 million in funding.