Department of Child Services

Gov. Eric Holcomb says he and the Department of Child Services are "wide open" to input from everyone in the child welfare system. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)
Brandon Smith

The Department of Child Services announced a campaign to encourage more Hoosiers to become foster and adoptive parents. But the new partnership with a national organization comes as many of the state’s foster parents say the system has significant problems.

Child Welfare Agency Proposes Changes To State Law

Sep 19, 2018
The Department of Child Services wants legislators to change some of the laws that govern the child welfare agency. (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)
Brandon Smith

The Department of Child Services wants legislators to change some of the laws that govern the child welfare agency.

Lawmakers debated those proposed changes in a study committee Wednesday.

Lawmakers Push Back Against Proposed DCS Changes

Sep 5, 2018
DCS Associate Director Todd Meyer, left, and Director Terry Stigdon, right, testify before a legislative study committee. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)
Brandon Smith

Indiana lawmakers aren’t happy with some of the recommendations from an independent evaluation of the Department of Child Services.

Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush says a recent independent report on the Department of Child Services underscores the need for a wholesale approach to improving child welfare. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)
Brandon Smith

Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush says a recent independent report on the Department of Child Services underscores the need for a wholesale approach to improving child welfare.

The Commission on Improving the Status of Children discussed the report at its meeting Wednesday.

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.

Controversial Issues Dominate 2018 Study Committees

May 15, 2018
House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says he's not sure hate crimes need to be studied further. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)
Brandon Smith

Indiana lawmakers will consider a number of controversial issues in study committees this year – including hate crimes and the Department of Child Services.

DCS Director Terry Stigdon addresses a crowd of child advocates at the Statehouse celebration of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)
Brandon Smith

Indiana leaders celebrated National Child Abuse Prevention Month Thursday amid controversy at the state’s child welfare agency.

A Senate committee unanimously recommended creation of a special legislative study commission to investigate the Department of Child Services Monday.

Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Merrillville) authored the resolution. He says his proposed two-year commission is not meant to interfere with an ongoing, independent review of the embattled state agency.

Bill Aims To Improve DCS Communication With Schools

Feb 22, 2018

A bill passed through committee this week that aims to improve communications between schools, courts and the Department of Child Services.

The first part of the bill would require DCS to outline efforts to coordinate with a foster child’s school system. Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington) authored the bill and says a case from his county highlights the problem.

“This child was 7-years-old and weighed 20 pounds and the only communication they had with the school was, here is the child,” says Zay.

Legislation unanimously approved in a Senate committee Tuesday aims to strengthen Indiana’s human trafficking laws.

The bill makes several changes to current statute. It separates out labor trafficking and sex trafficking and better defines them both.

Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Merrillville) wants to create a special legislative commission to investigate the Department of Child Services.

Melton says his proposal is meant to work in conjunction with ongoing independent efforts to explore issues at the embattled state 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.

A House committee has approved legislation to track foster children and their success in schools.

The bill would require the Indiana Department of Education and the Department of Child Services to gather data on foster care students in public schools – specifically, the graduation rates and enrollment data for those students.

Deb Brewer is the regional director of a foster care and family services group called The Villages of Indiana, and she says that data could mean more support for foster children.

A bill that would raise the limit on children in a foster family from five to six is headed to the Senate floor. It passed the Senate Family and Children Services committee unanimously last week.

Cathy Graham, executive director of the Indiana Association of Resources and Child Advocacy, testified in favor of the bill. She says increasing the limit could help the Department of Child Services in emergency placements.

Gov. Eric Holcomb sought in his State of the State to reassure Hoosiers his administration will do “whatever it takes” to fix problems at the Department of Child Services.

But Democratic legislative leaders say Holcomb’s address lacked boldness and leadership, particularly when it comes to the ongoing DCS crisis.

Indiana legislative leaders anticipate Gov. Eric Holcomb will address recent controversy at the Department of Child Services in his 2018 State of the State address.

Former DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura warned current funding and policies would lead to child deaths. Holcomb directed an independent consultant to examine the agency.

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.

Governor Holcomb Names New DCS Director

Dec 28, 2017

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced a new director for the Department of Child Services. He also called for a department assessment after the last director’s departure.

It was earlier this month when Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura sent a long resignation letter to the governor. In it she expressed her concern for the wellbeing of Hoosier children due to changes in the department, funding cuts and an increased number of children in the system.

Katherine Peraza poses with her her 3-month-old son. (Jill Sheridan/IPB News)
(Jill Sheridan/IPB News)

The Republican-led Indiana General Assembly crafted a two-year state budget that spends about $32 billion while maintaining what Speaker Brian Bosma calls a “healthy reserve.”

Even as Indiana’s new revenue forecast gave an optimistic outlook, House and Senate fiscal leaders didn’t waiver from their conservative appropriations.

Yet Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb achieved some of his legislative goals during his first budget session.

A House committee moved a bill to the floor legalizing so-called “baby boxes” while putting in jeopardy the status of the state’s two existing devices.

Baby boxes are meant to be a more anonymous way for someone to leave an unwanted newborn. There are concerns surrounding the devices, focused on a lack of testing, industry standards, or best practices.

Committee Approves Adoption Background Check Change

Jan 30, 2017

 

Legislation approved by a House committee would no longer require adoption agencies to check a national registry of child abuse and neglect cases because the registry doesn’t exist.

State law requires adoption providers to do a criminal history check of prospective adoptive parents. As part of those background checks, providers must consult a national registry of child abuse and neglect cases.

But Department of Child Services legislative director Parvonay Stover says the registry doesn’t exist.