The ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit on behalf of a group of case managers with the Indiana Department of Child Services. The group is suing the state of Indiana for violating state laws dictating their caseloads.
According to law, family case managers who monitor and supervise active cases of child abuse and neglect are allowed to supervise no more than 17 children at any given time. Case manager Mary Price, the lead plaintiff in the case, maintains a current caseload of 43 children. The ACLU contends that demand makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Price to meet the children’s needs and forces her repeatedly to work well beyond 40 hours per week.
"We are asking the court for an injunction to force DCS to address the urgent need for more case managers," said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director. "The department is required by law to meet the case ratios laid out by the Indiana General Assembly more than seven years ago, and the legislature must appropriate sufficient funds to meet these requirements."
The department has come under scrutiny by the General Assembly in recent years because of extreme cases of abuse and neglect that have resulted in the severe injury and deaths of children in the DCS system.
The General Assembly passed legislation in the last session that added $7.5 million to the DCS budget for the current two-year state budget cycle. The funding is supposed to be used to add 100 caseworkers to the department. However ACLU officials say that isn’t enough to fix the problem.
"It's not enough to simply pass laws that say we'll do the right thing," said ACLU of Indiana Executive Director Jane Henegar. "The purpose of caseload limits is the safety and welfare of vulnerable children. We expect government to meet the letter and the spirit of the law, providing children with the protections they deserve."