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Interim Report From DCS Review Team Sees Need for Computer Upgrade

Consultants looking into sharp rise in kids removed from their homes

(INDIANAPOLIS) - A more user-friendly computer system to make it easier to get the latest information on child-welfare cases is the first recommendation from consultants reviewing Indiana's Department of Child Services.

Governor Holcomb hired the Alabama-based Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group to review DCS after director Mary Beth Bonaventura resigned in December with a scathing letter charging "it is inevitable that children will die" due to fiscal belt-tightening and management dysfunction. Former Alabama child welfare director Sue Steib says DCS's computer system has the capability to give staffers up-to-date case information on demand, but it's difficult to navigate to the information you need.

Steib says consultants are also looking at the 17,000 kids removed from their homes. That's twice as many as five years ago, and twice the national average. Steib says they'll look at whether Indiana's too quick to take such a drastic step, and at the effect on caseloads.

The group will issue a second progress report March 1. It expects to finish its work in June. 

Senate President Pro Tem David Long says legislators will review the final report. He says he expects the administration can address any recommendations which require new spending by shifting money within the existing budget, but says he's open to a special session if legislative action is needed to free up money.

Child welfare consultant Sue Steib (right) with new DCS director Terry Stigdon (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

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