INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 18, 2015) - Governor Mike Pence announced a push for the Department of Child Services to receive an additional $7.5 million per year for the next two years. 100 new family case managers and 17 new family case manager supervisors are to be hired in the coming months as well.
This comes after it was announced in November that DCS is understaffed, and underfunded. DCS was breaking the law, not having nearly enough case managers. But Wednesday they got much of the help they need.
“We want to make sure that we have the proper amount of personnel that can be both investigating and providing the appropriate accountability and supervision for vulnerable children in Indiana,” said Pence during a press conference Wednesday.
It was discovered that DCS was underfunded and understaffed, even breaking the law by not being in compliance with the state’s own DCS standards. A DCS worker testified in November to the state budget committee, that only one of DCS’ 19 districts across the state was in compliance with state standards.
The department’s decision to study a new funding formula to address the shortcomings was met with fierce opposition from state democrats who felt immediate help was needed.
“Our caucus believes adequate funding for the 77 additional case workers, adequate funding for child protective services is a number one priority in this budget,” said State Senator and Democratic Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D – Anderson).
Wednesday though he had a new tone, “I think it’s a good day for the protection of children in the state of Indiana,” he said.
An independent study by Deloitte Consulting was what spurred the Governor’s announcement for increased funding. The report provided a laundry list of additional recommendations aiming to improve the department’s efficiency, including the hiring of new case workers to alleviate some of the existing load.
“The department study confirms that those standards are valid, that we do need additional case workers and staff to come in compliance,” said Lanane.
“We want to make sure, not only that we’re meeting our statutory obligations in terms of the standards that have been set, but we just simply want to do right by our kids,” said Pence.
The additional funding will require a budget amendment which needs approval from the general assembly. Democrats and republicans are both behind the Governor’s recommendations. The General Assembly has until April 29th to approve a budget.