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Legislator: Child Services Dept. Doesn’t Need More Changes

A summer study committee says it will make few recommendations for changes it thinks the Department of Child Services should be required to make next year.

The chairman of Indiana’s Child Services Oversight Committee says the legislature needs to step back from pushing for more changes at the Department of Child Services.

The DCS Oversight Committee will make few recommendations to the General Assembly for action next session.

Primarily, the recommendations revolve around monitoring ongoing changes, which include a new hotline for reporting abuse, a mental health services for children program and high turnover among DCS case managers.

Committee Chairman Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, says DCS has gone through enough big changes in the last year, including a shakeup in leadership, and the legislature shouldn’t create more chaos.

“You know, we’ve seen that in education somewhat,” he says. “You make a lot of changes, then at some point it is time to step back and let them work and then, in a year or two, then you reevaluate.  And if there’s other changes to make, then we’ll make them.”

But Rep. Gail Riecken, D-Evansville, says the legislature can’t step back too far, particularly in monitoring the abuse hotline.

“We need to be vigilant right now in how the hotline is being set up,” she says. “Is it working?  Are they on target?  People trained?  Is the turnover continuing to go down?”

Riecken says she would also like to see the state take action to combat the number of babies born addicted to drugs, though she says addressing that issue may not require legislative action.

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