Indiana Department of Child Services responds to lawsuit

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indianapolis Department of Child Services (DCS) director Terry Stigdon released a video statement Monday in response to a recent lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday, June 25 on behalf of children claiming “serious physical and psychological harm while in the state’s care.”

The statement by Stigdon acknowledges shortcomings of the agency in recent years, but says the lawsuit ignores regulatory steps taken and improvements made at DCS.

“Put frankly, DCS is simply not the agency it used to be. And continuing to rely on an outdated inflammatory account is misleading and harmful to children and their families,” Stigdon said.

She states that DCS has fully embraced recommendations from the Gov. Holcomb-commissioned Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group (CWG) report from last year.

The video and press release provided by DCS highlight the following:

  • Downward trend in the number of children in foster care and residential placements
  • Extension of services for older youth from 21 years of age to 23
  • Better support for foster families, including new staff members to connect caregivers to much-needed resources
  • Change in policy allowing staff necessary time to complete thorough assessments of allegations of abuse or neglect
  • More manageable caseload for our family case managers and attorneys, so each child receives the individualized attention they deserve
  • Increase in salaries for employees that better recognizes the complex work they perform on a daily basis
  • 18 percent drop in staff turnover, which over time will lead to fewer disruptions in child placements
  • Positive workplace environment recognized by the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute
  • Creation of a robust training division for our courtroom lawyers to ensure we represent children to the best of our ability

“Had the advocacy groups behind this lawsuit approached our agency leadership, we would have shared these successes, including our plans for the months to come. But to my knowledge, no significant effort to reach out with their concerns was ever made,” Stidgon added.

In Monday’s statement Stigdon said there is still work to be done at the agency, and she expects to be criticized for past mistakes, but DCS is on the road to success.

“I want Hoosiers to know I take the concerns of all the children and families we serve very seriously,” she said.

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