Thursday, June 21, 2018
Recently, the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group (CWG) concluded its six-month assessment of Indiana’s Department of Child Services (DCS) and developed 20 recommendations based on its findings. Gov. Eric Holcomb called for the thorough review of DCS in December 2017.
On Monday, June 18, Gov. Holcomb outlined immediate steps that will be taken to improve DCS, including allocating additional funding to support the agency’s turnaround efforts and appointing a new associate director to implement the recommendations from the CWG.
CWG’s assessment found that DCS staff are very dedicated to the well-being of the children they serve. However, caseworkers’ jobs have become increasingly difficult due to structural and policy issues, leading to higher turnover rates. To help manage the challenges DCS staff face, Gov. Holcomb directed the Office of Management and Budget to make available $25 million from the state’s surplus account. This money will be used to increase salaries, training and opportunities for critical DCS employees who work directly with vulnerable children and their families every day.
To oversee and implement the recommendations from the CWG, DCS Director Terry Stigdon appointed former Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer to serve as DCS’ new associate director. As Boone County prosecutor, Meyer founded Sylvia’s Child Advocacy Center, which provides a full spectrum of care, such as prevention, intervention and follow-up, to support children in need. Meyer will be responsible for implementing the recommendations from the CWG.
On Monday, July 2, members of the Legislative Council will convene at the Statehouse to discuss the findings and recommendations of the report as well as address the next steps to take in preparation of the 2019 legislative session.
To view the full report from the CWG, which includes the fill lists of strengths, challenges and recommendations, click here.