INDIANAPOLIS – Just eight days ago, Governor Eric Holcomb smiled for TV cameras on a victory lap over improvements at the Department of Child Services. Holcomb, in his ‘Mission Accomplished’ moment, flaunted “these good numbers” at a DCS bill signing ceremony on June 17. Just 8 days later, a bombshell lawsuit alleges the department he leads is manipulating the numbers and much-heralded reforms are failing to bring about real improvement. Holcomb’s reaction? Silence.
From the Indiana Lawyer DCS lawsuit details harm to children
“The complaint asserts the shortcomings of Indiana’s foster care system have been well-known for years, but the reforms made since the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group issued its report in June 2018 have not brought substantive improvement.
“In particular, the lawsuit alleges DCS is closing cases that are not ready for closure and are not investigating cases. Moreover, the lawsuit says, the state has not adequately addressed the shortage of appropriate placements for children, leaving some in inappropriate and sometimes abusive institutional settings for long periods of time.
“At the ages of 1 and 2, Ashley and Betty were hiding whenever their stepfather came home to avoid being subjected to his sexual abuse, the complaint says. DCS opened an investigation, learning of additional allegations of drug use and violence, but waited weeks to remove the sisters from the home.
“First, the girls were placed with their uncle and then moved to their aunt before being put into emergency shelter care, according to the lawsuit. Two months later, the sisters began cycling through more than a dozen foster home placements during the next two years, including a few months living with their biological father, under whose care they contracted lice and ringworms, missed appointments and had unexplained injuries on their bodies.
“Currently, Ashley and Betty are living in separate foster homes and see each other only at their weekly joint-supervised visits with their father.”
The details are disturbing and heartbreaking. Remember, in his 2018 State of the State address, Holcomb stated, “there’s no one who cares more about Hoosier children than I do, and I’ll do whatever is necessary…”. But Holcomb isn’t speaking on these horrifying new accusations.
“Now I did reach out to Governor Holcomb’s office for a response. We’re still waiting to hear back.”
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody had a simple ask of the governor: answer to the accusations that his department is cooking the books.
“The accusations that DCS is closing cases prematurely or failing to investigate cases at all threatens to destroy any remaining public trust in the state government Holcomb leads,” said Zody. “Slow progress is bad, but faking progress to artificially inflate the stats is the kind of political manipulation that puts the lives of children in danger. Governor Holcomb must answer to these accusations immediately. Leaders face questions, even when the answers aren’t easy. It sure looks like Holcomb is hiding just days after taking a victory lap on what are now alleged to be false improvements.”