Two key state agencies were back in the news this past week, with Governor Mike Pence taking questions about INDOT's bridge trouble on I-65 and the debate over hiring more caseworkers for the Department of Child Services.
Last week Pence called for the hiring of an additional 113 DCS case managers to help an agency overwhelmed with child abuse cases.
The announcement followed months of FOX59 investigations into the department that is dealing with more than 18,000 children facing abuse or neglect.
“The loss of innocent lives through neglect and abuse in our state is heartbreaking,” said Pence.
Indiana is seeing more child abuse, neglect and loss of life than ever before.
“Our numbers have risen by 26 percent from last year to this year,” said Indiana DCS Director, Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura.
More than 18,000 Hoosier children are in the DCS system this year which has led to thousands of overworked case managers. Many managers across the state are responsible for way more than the legal limit of 12 cases per DCS case manager.
“Sadly I stand here today to say that we need more. Indiana’s kids need more and the Department of Child Services is in need of additional caseworkers and personnel,” said Pence.
The governor announced the hire of 113 additional case workers, at the cost of $7.2 million, to handle the increase in abuse. Funding will first come from the DCS budget, with more as needed.
“Without them we can’t do this work and so they know that we’re supportive and they know that we might hire 113 today and we have a 50% increase. I hope that never happens but they also know that that’s an option,” said Bonaventura.
The governor also was asked about the delays in fixing the I-65 bridge in Lafayette, promising more road and infrastructure funding in the year ahead.