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Thursday, February 06, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - WRTV interview with DCS director Mary Beth Bonaventura

WRTV 6's Kara Kenney's story and video that appeared on yesterday's 11PM news is available here. From the story:

The new director of the Indiana Department of Child Services sat down with Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney to answer tough questions about an embattled state agency, child deaths, staff turnover and violations of state law.

It’s the first time Mary Beth Bonaventura agreed to a sit-down interview since taking office in March 2013. She addressed the state agency's problems some say have led to dozens of children dying from abuse and neglect.

It took Kenney months to get an appointment with Bonaventura, who said she is often in the office until 8 pm.

"My day is basically comprised of meeting after meeting after meeting," said Bonaventura.

In her candid interview, the former Lake County juvenile judge admitted she's afraid abused and neglected children will slip through the cracks.

"It scares me that I'm not going to have the right people in the right place at the right time making the right decision at the right time," said Bonaventura. * * *

"The biggest challenge facing me is trying to know what 1,833 case managers are doing every minute of the day," said Bonaventura. "There's so many moving parts out there, most of which you can’t control. You can only set the tone. You can only give the training. You can only give the guidance and sort of a philosophy and hope somebody's heard you."

Bonaventura took over for James Payne, who resigned in 2012 amid ethical questions regarding his involvement in a case surrounding his grandchildren.

"It wasn't pleasant a lot of the time," said Bonaventura when asked about her arrival at DCS. "I found myself having to defend him, having to defend myself, having to defend the agency, and it didn’t feel good."

The judge took over an agency that’s faced harsh criticism surrounding child deaths.

Records obtained by the Call 6 Investigators show between 2007 and 2011, 185 Hoosier children died due to abuse or neglect and 43 of those had a prior history with DCS.

Devin Parsons, 12, was beaten to death by his mom and boyfriend despite numerous warnings to DCS.

"(My biggest fear) is another child has to go through what Devin had to go through," said Bonaventura. "That's a huge fear, and trying to figure out how do I stop that from happening?"

Arguably, Bonaventura's job is the most important in the state of Indiana.

"The safety of children, there's probably no more important job than that," said Bonaventura.

Earlier ILB posts on Mary Beth Bonaventura.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 6, 2014 07:29 AM
Posted to Indiana Government