Marion County overwhelmed by child abuse cases

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 3, 2015) – We were the first to tell you of the overwhelming number of child abuse cases in Marion County. We’ve learned those cases have flooded DCS case workers, and the additional work load has passed on to nonprofits and others, now having to pick up the slack.

“Judge Marilyn Moores described it as a tsunami of kids entering the system,” said the Executive Director of Marion County Child Advocates, Cindy Booth.

A wave consuming our child courts with thousands of new kids, and new cases every single year.

“We have just this wave of children who suddenly started appearing in juvenile court because of heroin use by their parents, mental health issues, poverty… all those things that typically bring children into the system, we’ve just had way more of them come into the system,” said Booth.

Booth knows of this crisis all too well. Her organization is having to pick up the overflow from an overwhelmed Department of Child Services.

“What happens when we have 1,000 more children in the system is, is that everyone is taxed, everyone is overburdened, so you’re talking the juvenile court judge, the magistrates who hear, the court bailiff, the court reporters, the service providers,” she said.

As of March, there were 4,427 cases in Marion County, handled by 260 case managers. That equates to 17 cases per manager; the absolute limit allowed by the state.

In May, Marion County Juvenile Court Judge Marilyn Moores had this to say to reporters, “The children of Indianapolis are in a crisis. A crisis not of their making, a crisis they’re powerless to fix and a crisis of absolutely huge proportions.”

DCS is not able to handle all the cases in Marion County. As of May, Child Advocates was serving almost 6,000 children. And the “tsunami” never stops. In May 2014, Child Advocates received 239 new cases, in May of 2015, they received 392.

“We already don’t have enough volunteers and now we’re really overburdened,” said Booth.

The General Assembly this session allotted $7.5 million to hire an additional 117 DCS employees. But that according to Child Advocates is likely not enough. There are so many new children added to the system every year, there will likely have to be an annual DCS case manager increase.

If you’d like to be a court appointed child advocate, or a foster parent, visit Child Advocates’ website.

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