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Independent firm to audit Indiana DCS

(Indiana Statehouse Newsroom) - Several foster families are saying parts of the Department of Child Services (DCS) system need to be repaired. As an outside firm continues analyzing the department, lawmakers continue their own push to reinforce the troubled department.

Indiana's DCS has a new director who has pledged a new day with the department.

An independent consulting firm will release another report in about two weeks as it audits the department.

Monday, Democratic State Senator Eddie Melton said he hopes lawmakers on both sides of the aisle can work together on the issues within DCS.

When you ask Jacklin Caudill what it's like to be a foster mother of a six-week-old baby girl, her eyes light up.

"It is exhausting! I am tired, but it has brought me a lot of joy to see her grow already,” said Caudill.

What doesn't necessarily bring her so much joy is the Department of Child Services.

 "I would describe right now as rough. There definitely needs to be some changes. I feel like the children need to come first, and not always the biological parent,” said Caudill. "I think the communication lacks. I feel like there are a lot more cases than they can handle right now . There's a shortage in case workers, and a huge turnover rate."

Concerns like those are partly why Melton introduced a resolution that urges lawmakers to create a two-year bipartisan summer study committee focused entirely on DCS.

“That would address some of the issues and allegations that come around the Department of Child Services,” said Melton.

The committee would go over the allegations levied against DCS in a scathing resignation letter written by former director, Mary Beth Bonaventura. Melton said the committee might want to hear from her.

"I think that could be an option. If she's willing to come forth, I think she could bring a lot of valuable information,” Melton said.

Governor Eric Holcomb, a Republican, said, “We are going to have a fine-tooth combing of DCS. It's going to be a non-partisan analysis. I look forward to working with the Senator on that."

Foster parent Pam Owens said she thinks the revamping of the system is a good idea. She's fostered 170 children through the years. However, she said what she has a reservation about is whether this will take away from the children people are trying to serve.

Melton said he's optimistic he'll get the resolution passed and through Senate chamber. A vote on the resolution could happen within the next two weeks.

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(This story was originally published on Feb. 12, 2018)

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