The head of a national child advocacy organization is defending the Indiana Department of Child Services’ record. This comes on the heels of criticism the department has been receiving in recent months.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation says the Department of Child Services has implemented a new centralized reporting system, along with technological case management software and a larger staff who work directly with families. In an Indianapolis Star opinion piece, the foundation’s president said adoptions have increased 70 percent from 2004 to 2011 and fewer children are being separated from their families unnecessarily.
Tracey Feild, the Director of the Child Welfare Strategy Group at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, says child welfare initiatives were originally rolled into other state departments. Then when Mitch Daniels took over as governor in 2005, he created the DCS.
“They went through tremendous reprioritizing of child welfare services, beefing up resources when other states were cutting resources to children and families, and they have put in structures that have vastly improved the system,” she says.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has been providing advice and guidance on how to improve the system since 2005. Representative John Bartlett (D-Indianapolis) says the DCS has not come far enough.
“They may have made some improvements in certain areas, but they have not improved in others,” he says. “And maybe the not improvement outweighs the improvement piece of that.”
Bartlett says there have been reports that around 30 children died after abuse or neglect had been reported with the Department.
But Annie E. Casey says the DCS deals with unpredictable situations and can only do its best to implement proven strategies.
A legislative study committee is scheduled to meet later this month to look into some of the accusations. The DCS says it is committed to the safety of Indiana’s children and is willing to do anything it can to improve its system.