INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 30, 2015) - Facing an illegal number of caseloads burdening case managers and leading to overworked staff, the Indiana Department of Child Services is facing a class action lawsuit by the ACLU.
There is however another side of that burden: the wrong families being targeted by a department that’s lost its way.
When case managers are slammed with more than double the legal limit of cases, children can fall through the cracks. But there is another side to this, Families with good parents can be targeted because case managers are overwhelmed.
“They always just threaten to take the children away no matter how compliant you are,” said one parent, facing what he claims is unfounded backlash from DCS.
“It was at that point they decided that I would never get to get my children back until I had subjected myself to untold hours of psychological evaluation and treatment and six months of abuser re-education,” he said.
CBS4 is not revealing the identity of this couple. Their embarrassment from dealing with DCS has turned now to anger. These parents claim they’ve never abused their children a day in their lives. After a disgruntled relative called DCS after witnessing a father punishing his daughter, DCS claims, this dad is in no shape to raise his children. In November, police were called to the family’s home in Lafayette after an argument escalated.
“Police interviewed everyone and had ascertained that the house was safe. There was no abuse, there was no neglect, plenty of food, clothes, books, everyone was clean, taken care of,” said the father.
DCS showed up at the family’s home and that’s when this father says the department, now facing a class action lawsuit for breaking Indiana state law, unjustly assumed the parents were guilty. DCS obtained a court order forcing them and their children into months of therapy.
Sessions and countless court visits later, the experts have ruled there’s no abuse, and no need for any intervention.
In a report from a family therapist, the oldest daughter “does not exhibit any symptoms of post-traumatic stress or anxiety. She reports positive interactions with both parents and her family.”
This father was forced out of his home though. A judge ruled per DCS request that he only see his oldest daughter for eight hours each week.
But recently, a Court Appointed Child Advocate or CASA, reported, “The family is ready to reside in the same home. CASA agrees this is for the best.”
“No matter how many experts, no matter how many times good parents or experts tell them that good parents are parenting well and safely, that’s not good enough for them, it just extends open-endedly,” said the father.
DCS continues to fight the family. The couple says the only reason they can come up with is an overwhelmed system where case managers can’t distinguish between a serious case, and a case that should be closed.
“If you can’t recognize the children in need from the children who are vigorously protected by those who are most responsible for them, that goes beyond being overburdened to being underqualified,” he said.
The family is still living apart. They said they’ve depleted their entire life savings paying for court appointments and therapy sessions. The next step they said is waiting for a judge to overturn the DCS ruling.