INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 13, 2015) - Governor Mike Pence announced Thursday the hire of an additional 113 DCS case managers to help an agency overwhelmed with child abuse cases.
The announcement followed months of CBS4 investigations into the department that is dealing with more than 18,000 children facing abuse or neglect.
“The loss of innocent lives through neglect and abuse in our state is heartbreaking,” said Pence.
Indiana is seeing more child abuse, neglect, and loss of life than ever before.
“Our numbers have risen by 26 percent from last year to this year,” said Indiana DCS Director, Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura.
More than 18,000 Hoosier children are in the DCS system this year which has led to thousands of overworked case managers. Many managers across the state are responsible for way more than the legal limit of 12 cases per DCS case manager.
“Sadly I stand here today to say that we need more. Indiana's kids need more and the Department of Child Services is in need of additional caseworkers and personnel,” said Pence.
The Governor announced the hire of 113 additional case workers, at the cost of $7.2 million, to handle the increase in abuse. Funding will first come from the DCS budget, with more as needed.
“Without them we can’t do this work and so they know that we’re supportive and they know that we might hire 113 today and we have a 50% increase. I hope that never happens but they also know that that’s an option,” said Bonaventura.
Following months of CBS4 DCS investigations and after talking to case managers about unbearable case loads, we’ve learned that this is nothing new, and the state has been making these hires, routinely, for years.
Just this year the Governor announced funding for an additional 100 case managers. In 2014, DCS added an additional 110 case workers, and in 2013, an additional 136 were added.
State democrats say this latest announcement is a nice band aid, covering a bullet hole.
“There’s been no requirement that the agency live up to the law that is in place as to how many cases each case load worker should handle and because those cases are far exceeding what the law says it should, then we’ve got constant turnover,” said State Senator Jean Breaux (D - Marion County).
DCS has just under a 20% turnover rate. The goal according to Bonaventura is to get caseloads to a manageable level where turnover is minimal.
DCS officials would not comment on how these additional workers may play into the class action lawsuit filed against them by the ACLU on behalf of overworked case managers.