The $450 million question

INDIANAPOLIS – Governor Eric Holcomb took a swipe at outgoing Department of Child Services Director Mary Beth Bonaventura, citing the $450 million added to DCS’ budget and claiming he’s taken “appropriate steps” at the agency. Holcomb seems confident his agency is doing all it can, even as a highly-respected, career advocate for Hoosier children is sounding the alarm and saying his office’s decisions “all but ensure children will die”.

The question for Holcomb remains: does he believe Indiana’s vulnerable children are safe?

As of last year, the Department of Child Services failed to meet statutory caseload limits in 18 of the Department’s 19 regions. A family case manager who sued the agency handled as many as 43 cases at one time, more than twice the legal limit. Reports of child abuse and neglect to Indiana’s reporting hotline have more than doubled, from 109,489 in 2009 to 225,152 in 2016. All indicators show a problem getting worse, not better. Does Holcomb’s supreme confidence mean his agency is now complying with mandatory case load limits?

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody echoed Statehouse Democrats’ call for an investigation and cautioned the governor, warning his apparent overconfidence may put children’s safety at risk.

“Does Governor Holcomb really believe he’s doing enough to keep vulnerable children safe?” said Zody. “Director Bonaventura spent a career protecting children. Her word carries weight and she warns the state is on the cusp of self-inflicted tragedy. Governor Holcomb appears more interested in discrediting and dislodging a lauded advocate than respecting and heeding her counsel. Does Holcomb believe his agency will now meet statutory caseload limits? The proverb is listen twice, speak once. Governor Holcomb looks more interested in talking over criticism than admitting a mistake and learning from it to keep children safe.”

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