DCS discusses needs of the state’s foster children

By Max Bomber
TheStatehousefile.com

INDIANAPOLIS– Maltreatment of children in the state’s foster care system has increased 38 percent from April 2013 to April 2015.

The Department of Child Services (DCS) describes maltreatment as children with at least one substantial allegation of abuse or neglect when the perpetrator is a foster parent or a staff member.

DCS officials don’t know why the numbers are increasing but said it could correlate with the increasing number of drug abusers. DCS is working with state legislators to solve the problem.

Consulting firm Delloite, shows the workload is simply too much for the number of social workers leaving many of them overwhelmed. Due to the overload, cases are staying open longer than they used to. DCS is trying to fill vacancies as they are created and is implementing technology so employees can get work done more efficiently.

The committee also talked about successes from the session during Tuesday’s meeting. The General Assembly passed 10 bills this legislative session that affect children around the state.

“It was a good session for children” said Sen. Carlin Yoder R- Middlebury, chairman of the Department of Child Service Oversight Committee Task Force Agenda.

At the top of the agenda is DCS’s plan to extend foster care until the youth turns 20 years of age instead of age 18. DCS also wants to focus on encouraging a healthy level of independence so children have a greater chance of success in life after foster care. That, officials say, starts with quality foster parents taking a genuine interest in the child’s wellbeing and development.

The program has three pillars, connection to caring adults, employment and education. “The goal of this program is to give older youth a voice and let them have an active voice in that planning” said DCS Legislative Director Parvonnay Stover. “The goal is to help them figure out how to become successful adults…the requirements in HB 1434 encourage that youth have a voice in that planning.”

Max Bomber is a reporter for TheStatehousefile.com a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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