Child Safety and Welfare Update: DCS review focuses on abuse hotline

Update: DCS review focuses on abuse hotline

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DCS review hearing Sept. 5, 2012
DCS review hearing Sept. 5, 2012, in the Indiana House chambers

The legislative review of the Department of Child Services continued at the Statehouse today as the committee heard testimony from the DCS Ombudsman, Susan Hoppe.

Download the DCS Ombudsman’s committee presentation (PDF)>>

The committee also heard public testimony on the performance of the centralized abuse hotline.

Committee members’ questions focused largely on the hotline “screen out” process, the decision making point by the DCS central office on whether to send a call to a local DCS office for further investigation.

There is a review process in place whereby calls screened out by the hotline are later sent to a local review team for consideration. In some cases, the hotline decision not to pursue the call is overturned by the local team and a DCS worker is sent to investigate the report. According to today’s testimony, once a call is screened out, a week can pass before a local review team receives notification that the call was not considered worthy of investigation.

Compelling testimony by members of the public, including a family member of a child who died due to drug-related neglect after she had complained to DCS officials for two years and was never told of the ombudsman, was heard when the meeting was opened to public testimony.

Following the committee’s previous meeting, Democrat members sent a series of questions to DCS requesting specific information regarding the hotline and other child protective services. The letter aimed to engage DCS staff and work jointly towards developing solutions that create an effective child welfare system.

Download Democrat members’ letter to DCS requesting hotline and child protective service information (PDF)>>

The Dept. of Child Services provided responses to the Democrat members’ questions as well as noted if the issues would be addressed in future committee meetings.

Download DCS’s response letter (PDF)>>

**PUBLIC TESTIMONY ENCOURAGED**

Testimony can be provided in person at the meetings or in writing via email, USPS mail or by bringing your letter to an upcoming meeting.

The next two meetings of the committee will allow time for public testimony. Both meetings will be held at the Indiana Statehouse in the House chamber on the following dates:

  • September 24 at 1pm
  • October 11 at 1pm

Submit your comments in writing to:
Sen. John Broden
s10@iga.in.gov
200 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204