by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz
About seven or 8 years ago, a child who was a victim of abuse or neglect was probably better off being left in the abusive household rather than being put in the hands of the Indiana Department of Child Services. Here’s why.
- Back in 2004, 57 children were the fatal victims of abuse and neglect, 19 of them had prior visits by a case worker.
- Only 10% of children in DCS care received a visit by a case manager.
- There was an 18% chance that the abused child would be placed in the home of a relative.
- If you were to call the DCS “Hotline”, you would have to pick from 350 numbers and there was no consistent decision making process.
- There were less than 800 case workers and each had an average caseload of 35-60 cases.
- And to make life more enjoyable, they practically had no training. They were hired, given a case load and then were expected to learn on the job.
That was then. And then Mitch Daniels and Judge James Payne took over. Here’s what’s happening now.
- In 2010, there were 25 child fatalities due to abuse and neglect and four of those cases had DCS involvement prior to the fatality.
- Nearly 96% of children in DCS care receive a visit from a case manager.
- About 40% of abused and children are placed in the home of a relative.
- There is a single intake system for all reported calls of abuse and neglect. The hotline is staffed by specialists around the clock.
- As of February 2011, there were more 1600 case workers with an average caseload of about 15 cases.
- All family case managers have to take a 12-week training class before getting their first case and receive 24 hours of training each year.
Indiana used to rank near the bottom when it came to dealing with child abuse and neglect. However, as the Annie E. Casey Foundation noted in a recent report; the state is 10th in family reunification, 2nd in timeliness of adoption, 11th in placement stability and 3rd in permanency.
Is DCS perfect, no. Is it a lot better than it was before Judge Payne arrived, yes. How soon we tend to forget.
Abdul is the editor and publisher of IndyPolitics.Org. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: NW Times Indiana