In December of 2017, Indiana’s Department of Child Services (DCS) made news headlines across the state when the agency’s ability to adequately protect Hoosier children was called into question.
To get a full understanding of the issues facing DCS, Gov. Eric Holcomb called for the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group (CWG) to conduct a thorough assessment of the department.
The CWG recently concluded its study, sharing 20 recommendations to improve DCS. These include treating and supporting families struggling with substance use disorders, relaunching the family-centered practice model of care, improving the use of data and technology, and transforming the culture at DCS to encourage better decision making, training, professional development and advancement — particularly for those employees working directly with vulnerable children and families.
Moving forward, it will take a combined effort from lawmakers, Gov. Eric Holcomb and DCS officials to implement solutions and positive change, as the challenges facing DCS include structural and policy issues, parental drug abuse and others.
Upon receiving the report, state leaders took immediate steps to help facilitate the agency’s turnaround efforts. The governor directed the Indiana Office of Management and Budget to allocate $25 million to DCS to increase workers’ salaries and jumpstart the implementation of CWG’s recommendations. Additionally, DCS hired former Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer to serve as the agency’s new associate director, with his primary responsibility being the implementation of CWG’s recommendations.
In the legislature, we assigned the Interim Study Committee on Courts and the Judiciary and Legislative Council to review the CWG report this summer and fall in order to determine what legislative action may be needed. The Legislative Council met Monday, July 2 to begin the review process.
It was important for state and DCS leaders to wait for the much-needed report before making decisions regarding DCS. Hoosier children will always be one of our top priorities, and I am pleased that the governor took swift action to get the ball rolling on this issue. We will continue to work hard to help turn DCS around once and for all, and I look forward to seeing the positive effects these changes will have on our children, families and state.
To view a full copy of the CWG report, visit www.in.gov/dcs.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding this or other topics, contact my office by phone at 800-382-9467 or by email at Senator.Long@iga.in.gov.
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