Governor Mike Pence is making a change in leadership at the Department of Child Services, appointing a juvenile court judge as director of the embattled agency.
Lake County Superior Court judge Mary Beth Bonaventura will become the third DCS director in the last seven months. She has spent three decades working in the juvenile division, experience Governor Pence says makes her uniquely qualified for her new role. Bonaventura says she is already familiar with some of the issues plaguing DCS, including high turnover rates among case workers.
“We just have to figure out, how do we support the case managers that we have, keep the really great ones and maybe some of the ones that aren’t so great will just have to go their own way if they can’t keep up the pace,” she says.
Bonaventura replaces interim director John Ryan, who took over after long-time director James Payne resigned last July. Ryan will return to his role as DCS chief of staff during Bonaventura’s transition, something she says is vital.
“He’s so knowledgeable,” Bonaventura says. “I know nobody there. You know, I would walk in there saying, ‘Okay, who is everyone?’ And he has really been the glue to the agency and so, without him, I probably wouldn’t have taken the job.”
Ryan says he will stay on while Bonaventura adjusts to her new position but plans to retire within a year.