Indiana’s DCS director resigns in critical letter to Gov. Holcomb

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INDIANAPOLIS (WANE)- We are learning much more about why Indiana’s Department of Child Services Director abruptly resigned last week.

We obtained the letter on Monday. It is four pages long and talks about things Mary Beth Bonaventura says she has achieved. It also goes into scathing detail on the reason behind her decision to quit.

Department of Child Services Director, Mary Beth Bonaventura takes aim at the Governor’s office on pages 2 and 3, claiming Holcomb’s staff has cut funding and services to children in the midst of the opioid crisis. Bonaventure said, she would rather resign, than be involved in “decreasing the safety, permanency, and well being of children who have nowhere else to turn.”

First, Bonaventura’s letter said “I have effectively been stripped of power to run DCS for the past 11 months.” Going on to say she feels the DCS Chief of Staff appointed by the Governor’s office “created a hostile work environment.” Second, she said she feels the work with foster parents and child-placing agencies is being undermined. Third, she talks about  the DCS child support bureau being on the verge of collapse because of quote “antiquated technology”. Lastly Bonaventura claims there are “current efforts to reduce or cap staffing of Family Case Managers and Child Welfare attorneys.” State Senator Karen Tallian, a Democrat from LaPorte County said “She made a recommendation that they probably should hire close to 200 more. Yet what the Governor’s office is calling for, as far as I understand, is either cuts or a hiring moratorium.”

Democrat State Senator Karen Tallian who sits on the State Budget Committee, is calling for a full investigation of DCS funding.

Tallian explained “And find out exactly what’s going on over there. Find out exactly what the Governor is proposing. And see why he’s asking for cuts when the Legislature has been adding money for them to add staff?”

On Monday morning, Indiana House Democratic Leader Terry Goodin released a statement, saying in part:

“The circumstances surrounding this resignation raise some highly disturbing questions about the commitment this administration is showing toward protecting those children who are most at risk.

To hear that the director of DCS is leaving that post because the administration is pursuing policies that all but ensure children will die should give any reasonable person pause. Since taking the post, Mary Beth Bonaventura has done a praise-worthy job of bringing a measure of sanity to an agency that has seen its fair share of deserved criticism through the years.”

The governor released this statement on Friday:

“I am grateful to Director Bonaventura for her service at the Department of Child Services over the past five years. She has demonstrated unwavering commitment to keeping Hoosier children safe and has led this important state agency in the midst of a growing opioid epidemic that has impacted so many families.”

Holcomb released an additional statement on Monday:

“As I said on Friday, I’m grateful for Director Bonaventura’s years of service and her commitment to keeping Hoosier kids safe. I share that commitment and that’s why the state continues to make investments in the agency. We are providing record funding to DCS with nearly half a billion dollars more in funding support over the next two years. We will continue to do all we can to protect children.”

You can read the full resignation letter by clicking here.

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