INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 5, 2015) - There are families behind thousands of DCS cases, each with a different story.
In the case of one family, a Marion County mother had a DCS worker assigned to her daughter in December. Now, her 13 year old daughter has been missing for three days. This mother is concerned that her daughter’s DCS case worker was too consumed with too many cases, to help her troubled teen.
“Nobody has heard from my daughter, nobody has seen her, she has not called, usually the last time she called. She called after day two, she was tired, she was ready to come home, she’s gone, I don’t know where she is,” said Marquita Bright.
Bright’s 13 year old daughter was supposed to have a DCS case manager check in on her well-being.
“And what if my daughter is out here in danger, in trouble, and we have a DCS worker who has not even, you’re supposed to be helping us and you haven’t even contacted us; to do anything for help, nothing, nothing,” said Bright.
Since December, when a case worker was assigned to Bright’s daughter after she wound up in the hospital for taking too much Tylenol, Bright says she’s had no more than six visits from her case manager.
With visits Bright says, producing no real results for her daughter who she says is emotionally troubled, with a propensity for running away from home.
“Maybe 30 minutes; long enough to, they want to look through your refrigerator, walk through your house, and just ask the kids are they safe,” is how Bright described a DCS visit.
An at home, visiting therapist was assigned to the family by DCS, but Bright says, that wasn’t enough to help her daughter find stability.
“Every ongoing case manager that was not brand new had well over 30 cases,” said one former Bartholomew County DCS employee.
DCS case managers, according to that same former employee, are overwhelmed. Some deal with 30, if not more cases every day, a far cry from the state’s mandatory maximum of 17.
In March, a Deloitte study recommended 10 changes to the department, each with “High” importance.
One recommendation: “Improve the current case count calculation for reporting compliance with the 1:12 and 1:17 caseload ratios.”
Another: “build a comprehensive recruiting and retention strategy to minimize staffing shortages.”
DCS recognized their shortcomings, and said their improvements are ongoing.
“From the outside perspective, it does look very bleak. But I would want them to know we are addressing it. We’re doing everything not in a gunshot way, we’re doing it very methodically so that we can have this sustaining,” said DCS Communications Director, James Wide.
“The workers have been quite nice, I’ll say… but their hands are tied, they can only do so much,” said Bright.
DCS officials say they are constantly working to reduce the ratio but with an influx of children into the system through domestic violence and drug abuse, they are overwhelmed.