Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Merrillville, is urging his Senate colleagues to create a study committee to look into recent allegations against the Department of Child Services.
Senate Resolution 14, which was heard in the Family and Children Services Committee Monday, calls for a two-year committee to study issues related to DCS.
“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,” Melton said during a media availability.
Gov. Eric Holcomb called for a review of DCS last month after the agency’s former director, Mary Beth Bonaventura, resigned and raised raising concerns about a lack of funding. In her letter of resignation, Bonaventura said she could no longer stand by and watch Hoosier children “being systemically placed at risk, without the ability to help them.”
Holcomb’s administration hired a nonprofit, the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group, to conduct a thorough review of DCS. That organization, in its initial report, found children in Indiana end up in out-of-home care at more than twice the rate of children in other states and that DCS uses an antiquated data collection system.
Melton said the summer committee would focus on certain agencies or individuals such as Bonaventura to testify before the joint committee.
Republican House and Senate leaders have said they would not take action on the problems raised by Bonaventura until the Child Welfare Policy organization issues its report, which is expected in June.
Melton said he was optimistic that the resolution would pass through the committee and the Senate.
“This is in no way driven by any particular vote or partisan issue,” Melton said during a media availability. “When we look at it, this is about the children and their safety.”
Melton said he expects to fine-tune the resolution by amending it before it is called to a vote at the next Family and Child Services Committee meeting.
Abrahm Hurt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.