Gov. Eric Holcomb is calling for a “complete assessment” of Indiana’s child welfare agency, which has seen caseloads skyrocket amid the nationwide opioid epidemic.
The announcement Thursday comes in the wake of a scathing resignation letter from his outgoing Department of Child Services director. Mary Beth Bonaventura accused Holcomb’s administration of cutting services and making management changes that “all but ensure children will die.”
Holcomb said in a statement that he wants to make sure safety checks are in place and see how Indiana’s caseloads compare to other states. He also wants to make sure funding is used in ways that “best serve children and taxpayers.”
Holcomb also announced Bonaventura’s replacement. Terry Stigdon is now clinical director of operations at Riley Hospital for Children and will start Jan 22.
Family and Social Services Director Jennifer Walthall will work with Stigdon and says her experience will help Hoosier families.
“Her expertise in developing specialty pediatric sexual assault programs and networks and in overseeing trauma, emergency medicine and behavioral health for Riley Hospital makes her ideally situated to take on the challenges of this position,” Walthall said in a statement.
The department assessment will be performed by a national non-profit to evaluate current systems including funding models, case loads and program outcomes. The evaluation will begin Jan. 3.
Jill Sheridan contributed to this report.