Niezgodski:  Department of Child Services problems go beyond merely filling vacancies

Niezgodski: Department of Child Services problems go beyond merely filling vacancies

INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. David Niezgodski (D-South Bend) today issued the following statement regarding recent announcements involving the operations at the state’s Department of Child Services (DCS):

“So, once again, we find ourselves in a state of crisis management when it comes to the agency that is supposed to protect the health, safety, and well-being of our state’s most vulnerable citizens.

“Again we find our governor forcing agency directors into issuing grand pronouncements about the measures they will take to solve the problems that exist, without giving them the resources they need to make actual changes.

“To those who take the time to look, it is no surprise that DCS is deluged by too many instances of neglect and abuse, and they don’t have enough people to begin to address the problem. We’ve been down this road before.

“I know the governor talks a good game about caring, but the fact is that DCS is plagued by a management structure that has been stripped of the proper resources that enable them to care.

“From what we have heard, there is a 20 percent turnover among case managers at DCS. If that number holds true, there’s a good chance we will lose many of the 113 new people that are being hired within a very short time after they start working.

“That means, on a consistent basis, we are losing a wealth of knowledge in understanding the needs of these children. It has been replaced by a revolving door of personnel.

“Simply announcing new hirings isn’t enough. The governor has to make sure the people who are hired are valued and given the tools needed to perform at the best of their abilities.

“What needs to happen is an improved line of communication that assists the people who have the responsibility of making the agency’s function happen. I suspect if the governor was to ask workers at DCS about a typical day on the job, he would get a better understanding of what needs to be done.

“If not, I strongly suspect we will be back here again in another eight months to a year, talking again about abuse and neglect being on the rise in Indiana and our state not having the ability to address it.

“I dearly hope there is time to get this right. The lives of many children could hang in the balance.”

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