(Indianapolis, Ind.) - The study committee working to improve Indiana's Department of Child Services has voted unanimously to implement a new method for taking reports of abuse and neglect.
The DCS has been criticized for its mishandling of numerous cases and not following through on reports of child abuse and neglect. Senator Travis Holdman (R-Markle) says after months of debating, Tuesday's vote came down to one thing.
“We just got to do what we can to protect kids and do what’s best for them,” Holdman said.
Under the "modified hybrid plan," all calls to the Indiana Child Abuse Hotline - 1-800-800-5556 - will continue to go to the central hotline in Indianapolis, but the reports would then be distributed to local county offices. Fifty new specialists and ten new supervisors will reduce hold times and allow more flexibility with operators.
All reports from professionals will also be received through the hotline, but will then be assessed by 80 new local family case managers, resulting in at least 15,000 more full assessments each year.
The state estimates the program would cost $9 million, much of it for hiring the new caseworkers to work in the county field offices.
Legislation to reflect the committee’s recommendations will be submitted during the 2013 legislative session which begins January 7.
Representative Gail Riecken of Evansville says the agreement was a bi-partisan effort for the people of Indiana.
“This was done in recognition of all the folks who have complained and we can do better than what has been going on,” she said.