Child Safety and Welfare Action needed now to address issues with Department of Child Services

Action needed now to address issues with Department of Child Services

The Indiana Department of Child Services’ (DCS) Director recently resigned her post, citing policies from the governor’s office that resulted in children “being systematically placed at risk, without the ability to help them.” Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura led DCS since 2013 and has been a child welfare professional for 36 years. She was well respected and promoted throughout the years by leaders in both parties.

Since the Director’s letter was made public, members of the Senate Democratic Caucus have been calling for an investigation into DCS to address the child safety issues brought forward by Judge Bonaventura. Last week, Governor Holcomb announced a new leader for the Department as well as a third-party review of DCS to identify systemic issues. The review is expected to be completed this spring, after the legislative session has ended. This means legislators can’t act on any immediate health and safety concerns for Indiana’s children until 2019.

On December 29, 2017, Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) sent a letter to the Senate President Pro Temp David Long that called for a legislative committee to address concerns the Director brought to light.  Senator Lanane’s letter summed up the necessity for legislative oversight by writing, “as a co-equal branch of state government charged with the ultimate duty to pass policies that protect children, the General Assembly should move now to demand answers and accountability.” The GOP leadership in both chambers have stated their intent to defer to the governor and offer no legislative oversight until the 2019 session.

Read what news outlets from across the state are saying about this topic:
Indiana GOP lawmakers won’t act on child services crisis
Democrats, Republicans Want “Full Review” of DCS, but Differ on How and When
Democrats Want Legislature To Investigate Issues At DCS
Child services problems put parties at odds