INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg said
Monday that if elected in November he would push to restore money cut from
Indiana’s Department of Child Services budget in recent years and use it to
promote more adoptions and restore mental health services.
Gregg also said he’d like to establish a new office to coordinate responses
to family needs between state agencies.
“We’re going to make children a priority in this state,” Gregg said during a
news conference where he stood alongside running mate Vi Simpson, the state
Senate minority leader.
The department’s troubles statewide have been detailed in a series of
newspaper investigations. The Indianapolis Star has chronicled the beating
deaths of a half-dozen children last year who had contact with the state
agency. The state unsuccessfully tried to block the South Bend Tribune from
publishing the details of calls to the state by concerned neighbors before
the beating death of a 10-year-old boy.
Gov. Mitch Daniels included the child services department in a round of deep
budget cuts across all state agencies the last few years. The state cut $100
million, or 15 percent of the child services budget, in the 2011 budget and
cut $16 million, or 3 percent, from the 2012 budget. Department chief of
staff John Ryan maintained in a press conference earlier this month that the
$100 million in cuts did not result in a decrease in services.
Gregg says he would like to restore some of the money to be used to help
adoptive parents obtain counseling, medical equipment and other services.
Libertarian candidate for governor Rupert Boneham said Monday he’s been
trying to find out which programs the children’s services department cut. He
said he would like to see money from the state’s $2 billion in reserves,
built largely through budget cuts, used to create social and health services
within the agency for the children and struggling parents.
“Who better to help these kids with getting the support they need than their
DCS agent?” Boneham said.
A spokeswoman for Republican Mike Pence said he will be laying out his ideas
for the improving the department later in the campaign.
“Mike will continue to build on that vision by rolling out specific policies
on a regular basis all the way through September,” said Christy Denault,
Pence’s communications director.
The child services department has been criticized for not doing more to
protect children from abuse and neglect. Agency spokeswoman Stephanie
McFarland says the criticism ignores improvements that include a centralized
child abuse hotline and better worker training.
The state’s new central hotline did away with an inefficient patchwork of
local agencies that were slow in responding to abuse and neglect calls, she
“You had them all interpreting those calls in 92 different ways, now you
have one central line staffed 24 hours a day,” McFarland said.
are planning to study the hotline and other changes to the department this