Second DCS Evaluation Progress Report Released

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Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group director Paul Vincent (left) with Indiana DCS director Terry Stigdon. (photo courtesy Eric Berman/WIBC) Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group director Paul Vincent (left) with Indiana DCS director Terry Stigdon. (photo courtesy Eric Berman/WIBC)
INDIANAPOLIS -

The Alabama-based Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group has released the second progress report on its evaluation of the Indiana Department of Child Services. The nonprofit agency says one of the DCS' main challenges is an insufficient number of experienced attorneys to help handle cases.

CWG says it has interviewed more than 140 people to date. The report says the DCS shifted from contracting with private law firms to using in-house attorneys and interviewees have suggested the practice has led to delays in filings and court hearings.

Some of the other challenges listed in the progress report include whether DCS case managers and supervisors have adequate training and qualifications for the job, reportedly poor customer service, and a shortage of services, particularly mental health and substance abuse treatment resources throughout the state.

However, CWG says many of the interviewees have expressed optimism about the new leadership at DCS as well as a renewed interest from state leaders. Some of the other strengths noted in the report include the dedication and hard work of case workers and supervisors, and the collaborative relationship among DCS and other state agencies.

CWG says it will continue to conduct interviews and review information related to the DCS over the next few months. Our partners at WIBC in Indianapolis report the group plans to invite former DCS director Mary Beth Bonaventura for an interview. Bonaventura's scathing resignation from the department led to the evaluation.

The nonprofit says it will deliver its final report to Governor Eric Holcomb and DCS Director Terry Stigdon in June. You can read the full second progress report by clicking here.

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