Governor Mike Pence Thursday announced the authorization of 113 additional Department of Child Services caseworkers to meet the demand caused by increased cases across the state. DCS will present its annual report to the State Budget Committee Friday.
The announcement comes less than a month after the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana sued the state on behalf of caseworkers who contend their caseloads were more than twice as high as the maximum allowed under state law.
“This authorization for 113 more DCS caseworkers is all about putting kids first,” Pence said in a statement. “We want to make sure that we’re not only meeting our statutory obligations, but also that we’re doing right by our kids. There is simply no higher priority than the safety of the children in this state, and I am confident that by hiring these additional caseworkers, we can help ensure that our dedicated personnel at DCS are able to provide children in difficult circumstances with the time and attention they deserve.”
The statement said the new caseworkers will help the state become compliant with caseload standards, based on June 2015 numbers. DCS will immediately begin to fill these positions.
“Children are being abused and neglected at an unprecedented rate in Indiana. In fact, from July 2014 to July 2015 the number of children entering into the DCS system has increased by 26 percent,” said DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura. “There is nothing more important than keeping the children and families we serve, safe; and providing the necessary support to our frontline staff is paramount to accomplishing our mission.”
In March, DCS released the findings from an independent workload and caseload analysis of the agency by Deloitte Consulting. The final report included 10 recommendations to change the way caseworkers carry out their duties.