Gov. Pence: DCS cases increased by 26 percent in a year; 113 new caseworkers will be hired
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Aug. 13, 2015)—Gov. Mike Pence addressed the issues surrounding the Department of Child Services Thursday morning, announcing the State would authorize the hiring of 113 additional caseworkers following an increase in cases this year.
“This authorization for 113 more DCS caseworkers is all about putting kids first,” said Gov. Pence, in a statement to media. “We want to make sure that we’re not only meeting our statutory obligations, but also that we’re doing right by our kids. There is simply no higher priority than the safety of the children in this state, and I am confident that by hiring these additional caseworkers, we can help ensure that our dedicated personnel at DCS are able to provide children in difficult circumstances with the time and attention they deserve.”
This authorization comes the day before the agency presents its annual report to the State Budget Committee.
Just last month, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against DCS, claiming DCS workers are forced to take on heavy caseloads that prevent them from doing their jobs adequately. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a DCS worker, who had 43 cases. State law requires the maximum number of cases per worker be 17. An ongoing CBS4 investigation into DCS revealed several problems within the department.
In July, Gov. Pence reacted to the lawsuit, stating “We took a very careful and independent look at what the law requires, and if you`ll recall, I submitted a supplemental budget request in the midst of this session of the General Assembly, requesting an additional $7.5 million for the Department of Child Services to bring up the number of case workers.”
The additional funding enabled the department to hire an additional 100 case workers this summer. But, the ACLU said that is not enough.
However, Thursday, Gov. Pence said caseloads have increased by 26 percent from this time last year. To meet the demand, Pence said the 113 new caseworkers will be compliant with caseload standards based on June 2015 caseload numbers.
DCS officials said they will immediately begin filling those positions.
“Children are being abused and neglected at an unprecedented rate in Indiana. In fact, from July 2014 to July 2015 the number of children entering into the DCS system has increased by 26 percent,” said DCS Director, Mary Beth Bonaventura. “There is nothing more important than keeping the children and families we serve, safe; and providing the necessary support to our frontline staff is paramount to accomplishing our mission.”
Drew Anderson, communications director for the Indiana Democratic Party, released the following statement responding to Governor Mike Pence’s decision to address the epidemic crippling Indiana’s Department of Child Services.
“From reports earlier this summer, it took 72 days and a state lawsuit for Gov. Pence to address the spike in caseloads within the Indiana Department of Child Services. With this severe uptick in caseloads and the extreme burden case workers have to bear, it’s encouraging Gov. Pence finally caught up and is addressing the epidemic hurting our Hoosier children. However, how many times does Gov. Pence have to be late to the game on solving today’s pressing problems for the Hoosier middle class? Hoosier families need to feel assured that it shouldn’t take a public relations crisis to get Governor Pence to act. We can do better.”