Pence names Lake County judge to head DCS 

By Samm Quinn

Gov. Mike Pence appointed a new head for the Department of Child Services on Wednesday as lawmakers continue working on legislation to improve the agency.

Mary Beth Bonaventura will join the Pence administration as head of the controversial agency. Bonaventura served most recently as the senior judge of the juvenile division of the Lake Superior Court.

Former Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed Bonaventura as a member of the Indiana Commission on Disproportionality in Youth Services in 2008. She was also named chair of the Civil Rights of Children Committee for the Indiana State Bar Association and chair of the Child Welfare Improvement Committee.

"Judge Bonaventura is uniquely qualified to lead the state's Department of Child Services and help to protect Hoosier children from abuse and neglect," Pence said. "She is a strong leader who has an impeccable reputation of integrity and compassion for children."

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said Bonaventura's experience makes her the best candidate to lead DCS.

"Judge Bonaventura has received countless recognitions for her outstanding service to children throughout her career," Long said. "Put simply, no one in this state understands the intricacies of child welfare better than Judge Bonaventura, making her the perfect choice to lead DCS."

Bonaventura takes office as lawmakers are working on a bill to improve DCS. The House Committee on Family, Children and Human Affairs is considering legislation would require the agency to hire more than 150 employees to manage calls and reduce wait times for Hoosiers trying to report abuse cases to DCS.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said Bonaventura's appointment will provide a fresh perspective to DCS as the state tries to improve the agency.

"Without a doubt, she will be leading the charge on one of the most crucial and sensitive issues in our state. We will do all we can to support her in her efforts to protect Hoosier children," he said.

Samm Quinn is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.

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