INDIANAPOLIS (AP/WISH) — Indiana’s child welfare agency is responding to a federal lawsuit accusing it of failing to protect 22,000 foster children with open child welfare cases.
The lawsuit filed June 25 by Indiana Disability Rights, the national advocacy group A Better Childhood and a New York-based law firm alleges that the plaintiffs have suffered serious physical and psychological harm while in state care.
In a video posted online Monday, the Indiana Department of Child Services’ director said the agency has made significant strides in the past year.
Stigdon said in the video, had the advocacy groups behind the lawsuit approached the agency leadership, DCS would have shared the successes, including plans for the months to come.
“Instead, we are surprised with public allegations that demoralize our employees just as they have begun to feel hopeful about the positive changes we are making.” Stigdon said in the video.
“The timing of this filing is puzzling, considering the significant strides our agency has made since we publicly took responsibility for our shortcomings one year ago,” Stigdon said in the video.
Stigdon also said in the video it’s “easy to cherry-pick our most challenging cases to support a narrative suggesting this is every child’s experience” but the average number of homes a foster child lives in while in state care is two.
“Put frankly, DCS is simply not the agency it used to be. And continuing to rely on an outdated inflammatory account is misleading and harmful to children and their families.” Stigdon said in the video.
To read the transcript of the video, click here.