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DCS Review Examines Shortage Not Only of Caseworkers, but Attorneys

Outside group says it's assessing whether switch to in-house counsel has slowed hearing process

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Consultants evaluating Indiana's child-welfare agency are looking not just at a shortage of caseworkers, but a shortage of staff attorneys:

The Alabama-based Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group says conversations with judges and others from outside the Department of Child Services have raised concerns about child-welfare hearings being delayed because DCS doesn't have enough attorneys. Indiana switched from hiring outside attorneys several years ago to using in-house legal staff.

CWG director Paul Vincent, a former director of Alabama's child-welfare agency, cautions it's too early to assess whether that's a statewide issue. The nonprofit will release its final report June 21.

Vincent says consultants have interviewed 141 people so far, from inside and outside the agency. He says the group plans to invite former DCS director Mary Beth Bonaventura to talk. It was her scathing resignation letter which prompted the review.

Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group director Paul Vincent (left) with Indiana Department of Child Services director Terry Stigdon. (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

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