A new report shows that 65 Indiana children died from abuse or neglect during 2018, the same number as its last year-long review.
The Indiana Department of Child Services said it investigated 242 child fatalities that happened in 2018, determining 26% of those deaths were from abuse or neglect. The 65 such deaths for its 2017 report represented 21% of the fatalities investigated.
The report released Dec. 31 details 26 abuse or neglect deaths that happened during the last six months of 2017 as the state changed its reporting period from one beginning in July to instead cover a calendar year.
Northwestern Indiana’s Lake County had the most abuse or neglect deaths during 2018 with eight, while central Indiana’s Madison County was next highest with five.
The most common causes of death during 2018 were abusive head trauma, drowning and poisoning or acute intoxication, according to the report. Ten of the 65 child victims had previous substantiated history of neglect or abuse with DCS.
Those deaths occurred while the child services agency has struggled with high turnover among caseworkers and a jump in the number of abused or neglected children cases that state officials have blamed on more drug-addicted parents.
Legislators last year trimmed $70 million from Gov. Eric Holcomb’s request for an additional $572 million over the next two years toward allowing the agency to keep hundreds of new caseworkers.
Holcomb sought that money to match a boost of $286 million, or about 40%, that his administration transferred to the agency in 2018, but officials said the lower funding level was possible because caseloads in the agency were improving.