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House Unanimously Approves DCS Reform Bill

Proposal caps caseloads, declares poverty alone isn't reason for intervention

(INDIANAPOLIS) - The latest attempt to get control of swelling child-welfare caseloads is headed for the Senate.

Governor Holcomb is asking for an extra $300 million in this year's budget to keep up with caseloads at the Department of Child Services. Legislators rejected a recommendation from an outside consultant to scale back laws which require investigations in some circumstances. But the House has unanimously approved a ban on opening cases solely because a family is too poor to afford basic food or shelter.

The bill also caps how many families a caseworker can be assigned at once. Legislators have tried that before -- neither the old law nor the new one includes a way to enforce the limit. Republicans rejected a Democratic amendment last week which would have required the agency to hire as many caseworkers as necessary to stay under the caps.

Avon Republican Greg Steuerwald (R) says DCS is in a tough position, being criticized by some for removing too many children from homes, and by others for not removing enough.

The Senate will take up the bill in March.

Department of Child Services director Terry Stigdon (left) with Sue Steib, whose Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group reviewed DCS operations (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

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