INDIANAPOLIS– After the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) forced Jamie Ciechanowicz out of her home in July of 2019, the Fortville mother of three said she did everything she was told to do to get back to her kids.
“So I did the drug tests twice a week,” she said. “They called me from twelve different numbers. I was complying with what they wanted before any court order and they still dragged it on because of these drug test people.”
“These drug test people” would be the employees of Tomo Drug Testing at 2300 South Lynhurst Drive, who were subcontracted by Redwood/Abbott Laboratories to perform and document drug testing on adults and children who were the subjects of open cases at the Indiana Department of Child Services.
“When you’re dealing with DCS, it doesn’t matter what the facts are, ‘You’re a bad parent,’” said Ciechanowicz. “That’s all they think. That’s all they say.”
On Thursday, Delaware County Prosecutor Eric Hoffman wrote a letter to the Delaware County Bar Association and the Public Defender advising both offices that Judge Kimberly Dowling had advised him the day before that IDCS told her that, “At least two employees of TOMO falsified documents in two scenarios,” and those employees, “Falsely ‘scheduled’ drug screens (and) did not inform the person to be tested,” and then would, “report that the person failed to appear (and) employees of TOMO then allegedly falsified records.”
“TOMO employees failed to appear to take the sample…then allegedly falsified records that the person failed to appear,” wrote Hoffman. “This occurred in approximately 100 Delaware County CHINS and/or Termination of Parental Rights cases.”
Ciechanowicz lives in Madison County and said it happened to her. Another woman contacted CBS4 and claimed that her test results at a Marion County location were also fabricated.
“They would text me one time,” said Ciechanowicz. “If I didn’t answer, they would write me down for a refusal. If I was at a doctor’s appointment, they would write me down for a refusal. They would say that they reached out to me when they never called, they never tested.
“Altogether there’s probably ten to either 15 or 20 that they wrote me down for flat out refusals when I had a fever or if I had a doctor appointment or they would write me down as no shows when they never reached out to me,” said Ciechanowicz. “They also said I tested positive for marijuana which the funny part about that is, they would come to my house with their car smelling like marijuana.”
Ciechanowicz said the two employees who falsified her records were sisters and worked in an office with other relatives and friends who targeted her when she started complaining to a DCS caseworker.
“It was personal,” she said. “They were doing it on purpose because they had been caught.”
Ciechanowicz provided CBS4 with copies of emails exchanged with various DCS employees in which she complained about the practices of the TOMO employees.
“The night people were forging signatures,” she wrote her case worker. “They lie, they mark ME down for no shows or refusals.
“I keep records of EVERY single call and text of these people.”
On April 28, more than eight months after DCS opened its case, Ciechanowicz received this email written by a case worker to her lawyer:
“The same contracted agency… has been screening her the entire time however we have had to change testing employees because of concerns I had over irregularities in screening procedure. I might be able to ask Redwood to use a different sub-contractor.”
“Nobody listened to me,” said Ciechanowicz. “No matter how much proof I had. No matter texts, screenshots, emails, nobody listened because I was the ‘bad parent.’”
While DCS and Redwood/Abbott refused comment, Tomo Drug Testing issued the following statement:
Upon learning about allegations that a Tomo employee was falsifying phone and text documentation, we launched an internal investigation into all Tomo technicians in the State of Indiana. Our internal investigation found a second employee was falsifying documentation and this information was turned over to the proper agency immediately.
Our investigation concluded the intent of the employee’s actions were to cover a dereliction of work duties, by inaccurately documenting that donors were contacted to drug test when in fact they were not. The investigation has not revealed any tampering with specimens. Furthermore, Tomo believes this was an isolated incident as the investigation has not presented any additional findings that other technicians were falsifying documentation. Both employees in question were terminated immediately upon Tomo’s discovery of the issue.
We take pride in being involved in efforts that reduce substance misuse and promote healthy families. This type of situation is very unfortunate and not consistent with how our team compassionately works with donors every day. Tomo supports and believes in the important work of the Indiana Department of Children’s Services and programs like it. We are fully cooperating with the investigation.
There is no indication outside of Delaware County how many central Indiana families may have been harmed by the falsification of records by Tomo Drug Testing employees or the refusal of DCS to take prompt action when confronted with complaints by families under its jurisdiction.
Ciechanowicz estimates she spent $6000 on attorney’s fees in the effort to be reunited with her family after a doctor confirmed that the incident that resulted in the filing of DCS charges against her was due to a medical condition.
She finally was allowed to return home this past July, nearly one year after her case began, though now she said her children suffer nightmares because of their forced separation.
Ciechanowicz said a case worker told her she was on the verge of being cleared to return home last fall until DCS received negative press coverage after it was reported that a child returned to the custody of his father was abused and a decision was made to halt reunifications such as hers.
She said three DCS case workers were assigned her file over the course of the year and one state employee quit, telling her he was frustrated that his input on her case was ignored by his supervisor.
Ciechanowicz has this message for Governor Eric Holcomb, who recently touted the progress his administration has made in improving DCS:
“He really needs to get in there and work with the case managers,” she said. “They don’t care about the families, they don’t care about the parents, especially, they don’t take anybody’s word for it.”