INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Department of Child Services expects to
serve more than 11,000 additional families each year by adding a total of
$47.8 million over three years to new and existing programs Wednesday while
lawmakers prepare to examine the operations of the often-criticized agency.
The agency said it was reallocating from its general fund $12.6 million in
each of the next three years to five programs and spending $10 million on a
new program offering housing and educational options for children who leave
foster care after they turn 18.
Gov. Mitch Daniels tells agencies not to spend all of their budgets in case
of budget shortfalls that require them to send money back to the general
fund. But agency spokeswoman Stephanie McFarland said Daniels this year
required state agencies to revert only 3 percent of their budgets this year,
down from 15 percent required a year ago. The current state fiscal year ends
Saturday, and McFarland said the department would return about $16 million
to the states general fund, compared with $104 million last year.
Department Chief of Staff John Ryan said the agency has been able to meet
the needs of the families it serves despite deep cuts in funding in recent
"We believe that the families have received adequate services," he said.
However, others have criticized the agency for not doing more to protect
children from abuse and neglect. A legislative study committee is expected
to scrutinize the agencys operations in the coming months.
The agency said the reallocated funds will expand services to families that
have open cases with the agency and continue services for some families
after their cases have closed. Funding also will cover prevention services
for some families who face crises or circumstances that could put them at
The funds reallocated over the next three years, and the estimated number of
families who will benefit, include:
— $5.3 million per year to support 5,300 families who need help providing
safe and stable environments for their children.
— $2 million per year to provide services to 450 high risk families with
children under age 3.
— $2 million per year for 2,700 households in which relatives care for
children removed from their homes.
— $1.3 million per year to 2,600 families that need basic services such as
food and shelter before they receives other services later, such as therapy
and domestic violence services.
— $2 million per year on a new program to provide services to 850 families
for six months after their cases close.
Rep. Gail Riecken, D-Evansville and a member of the legislative panel that
will examine the agency, said it should have used some of the reallocated
funds to address criticisms of their centralized child abuse hotline and to
provide mental health treatment for youths considered dangerous to
themselves or others.
"They missed an opportunity," Riecken said.
The legislative panel was created by the General Assembly in the wake of
newspaper investigations exposing problems with the agencys ability to
The Indianapolis Star reported in January that the agency received
allegations of neglect and abuse against six Indiana children last year
before each child died. The South Bend Tribune reported in March that an
anonymous caller to the agencys child abuse hotline pleaded for 20 minutes
for someone to check on conditions in a home six months before a boy living
there was tortured to death. Also in March, the leader of a state team
investigating child deaths resigned, saying issues within the agency make it
impossible to do her job.
The agency last month restored about $10 million in funding to boost in-home
programs and services, three years after asking providers of those services
to cut their rates by 10 percent.