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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ind. Gov't. - "Panel floats emergency DCS changes: Legislators seek more oversight, localization of troubled agency" [Updated]

Tom LoBianco of the AP has a long report today on the results on the meeting yesterday of the Department of Child Services Interim Study Committee. The story begins:

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers reviewing the embattled Department of Child Services voted Tuesday to localize more decisions on when to investigate cases of child abuse and neglect and set up a permanent oversight committee at the Statehouse.

Members of a study committee reviewing DCS operations asked the state to draft emergency regulations that would give county field workers a voice in the handling of abuse and neglect calls to a central hotline. The panel also proposed creating a permanent legislative committee to oversee the agency and recommended expanding and adding child fatality review teams.

Tuesday’s action came after months of emotional hearings on troubles at the agency following news media investigations into dozens of child deaths across the state. Lawmakers and children’s advocates blamed the state’s centralized abuse reporting hotline in large part for “screening out” calls that should have been investigated.

DCS officials said Tuesday’s decision would maintain a centralized reporting system they have called a national model, while decentralizing decisions on which calls are investigated.

[Updated] Virginia Black of the South Bend Tribune reports today in a lengthy story that begins:
Members of a study committee appointed earlier this year to investigate growing concerns over Indiana's Department of Child Services wrapped up their work Tuesday, generally calling for more oversight of abuse and neglect reports and of the agency itself.

The policies and costs associated with the panel's final recommendations -- which from here will be written into bills for both the state House and Senate -- will have to be approved by the General Assembly as it begins its work in January.

But the tone of Tuesday's meeting in Indianapolis generally carried a much more cooperative note than contentious portions of the committee's earlier meetings.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 28, 2012 10:14 AM
Posted to Indiana Government