Update: On Thursday, Senate Resolution 14 was approved by the Senate, calling for a legislative study committee to convene in the summer to address problems within the Department of Child Services (DCS). Since last December, when the Director of the DCS resigned her position, citing children in the system “being systematically placed at risk, without the ability to help them,” the Indiana Senate Democrats have been seeking ways to improve the Department. Proposals calling for legislative hearings on the matter have been brushed aside by the majority in the House and Senate, as leadership has decided to take a wait-and-see approach as a third-party, hired by the Administration, continues their work. The legislature, an equal branch of state government, has the obligation to also evaluate the issues plaguing DCS. See more information about the resolution’s passage out of committee and Sen. Melton’s comments on the resolution.
On Monday, State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) presented Senate Resolution (SR) 14 in the Senate Family and Children Services Committee. SR 14 would create a joint interim study committee to study allegations about the Department of Child Services (DCS) listed in a resignation letter from former Director Mary Beth Bonaventura. The committee only heard testimony on SR 14 and held the opportunity to amend and vote on the resolution for a later committee meeting. Sen. Melton had the following comments on the resolution:
“I brought Senate Resolution 14 forward because I think we are putting our children at risk if we don’t take a closer look at what’s happening inside of the Department of Child Services.
“Currently, we have an executive branch reporting on the Department’s operations but I feel as though elected legislators should also have a seat at the table when it comes to our state’s most vulnerable citizens, our children.
“The allegations provided by the former director are nothing to take lightly and I hope that I can get bipartisan support moving forward on this issue. This is not a topic that can be ignored and I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle understand the position they will put our state and our children in if they do not agree to study this issue.
“I am working alongside the Chairman of the committee to ensure this resolution’s progress through the legislature. This is a common sense resolution and I worry that we will further endanger children’s lives if we fail to take action on such an important matter.”