Lawmaker Seeks Bipartisan Study Committee As Another DCS Official Resigns
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – An executive manager with the Indiana Department of Child Services is the latest official to resign from the department.
Deputy Director of Field Operations Jane Bisbee stepped down on February 8, but will continue working through February 23. It’s unclear what prompted Bisbee to resign.
Former DCS director Mary Beth Bonaventura resigned from the post in December. In her resignation letter to Governor Eric Holcomb, Bonaventura said she could no longer stand by and watch Hoosier children “being systemically placed at risk, without the ability to help them.”
Bisbee’s resignation comes as a Democratic state lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that would create a special committee of state lawmakers to investigate the problems in Indiana’s embattled child welfare agency. The non-binding resolution by State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Merrillville) calls for a study of DCS by a bi-partisan summer study committee.
“This is in no way driven by any particular vote or partisan issue,” Melton told reporters Monday. “When we look at it, this is about the children and their safety.”
Melton’s proposal, Senate Resolution 14, has not yet been put to a vote.
Holcomb’s administration has already brought on an outside consultant to conduct a probe of the agency.
The non-profit Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group, based in Alabama, issued its first update on February 1. A consultant found the number of Hoosier children in foster care has more than doubled in just the past five years to 16,834 at the end of 2017.
The figure is even greater than neighboring states with much larger populations than Indiana, leading many at the Statehouse to speculate about systematic problems with Indiana’s DCS.
CWP also identified the need for an automated data system at DCS that is faster and more user friendly.
A final report from the consultant is expected in June. Melton said the committee set up by his legislation would take that report into consideration.
“The whole intent of this body is to work alongside the governor’s office with their independent study that’s taking place with the third party and hopefully to allow legislators from both sides of the aisle and also both chambers to participate in that process,” said Melton.