Photo: Jasont82 (Wikimedia)
The Department of Child Services was in the spotlight this week as lawmakers advanced DCS reform legislation and Governor Mike Pence appointed a new director for the state agency.
Governor Pence’s appointment of Lake County Superior Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura was greeted with acclaim by both Republicans and Democrats. Bonaventura has spent three decades working in the juvenile division and is well-acquainted with some of the issues that have plagued DCS. She replaces interim director John Ryan, who will stay on as chief of staff during Bonaventura’s transition.
The Senate has taken the lead in acting on several pieces of DCS reform legislation. That includes the passage of a bill allowing local officials, including law enforcement, educators and medical personnel, to bypass the state’s centralized call center and report potential abuse cases directly to local DCS caseworkers. The measure is aimed at reducing caller wait times on the hotline and helping ensure abuse reports do not fall through the cracks.
And a Senate committee this week approved a bill aimed at curbing the state’s synthetic drug problem. This is the third consecutive session lawmakers have dealt with legislation on the issue. This year’s bill aims to expand the definition of synthetic drugs enough for law enforcement to effectively limit their sales.