Indiana lawmakers vote to recommend policy change inside DCS

Politics

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Department of Child Services leaders were in the hot seat Wednesday.

Wednesday was the second in a series of Summer Study Committees devoted to improving the agency in charge of kids welfare in the state.

One of those topics, between DCS officials and lawmakers: the response time DCS workers have.

Right now, state law requires the Department of Child Services to start an assessment within in hour of receiving a report of child abuse or neglect.

DCS wants to have four hours to respond to non-emergency cases. DCS Associate Director, Todd Meyer gave us the example of a child physically abused. The police are involved and the child’s already at the hospital, getting treatment.

“That child is not in imminent danger. They’re getting care. Do we need to respond to that in an hour? Probably not. We should have the ability to allow our employees to live somewhat of a normal life life with normal work hours to be able to have that flexibility to respond within a four-hour window,” said Meyer.

But, Wednesday’s Summer Study Committee disagreed.

State Senator Erin Houchin, a Republican from Salem said, “Ultimately, the committee did not feel comfortable with allowing a four hour window to respond to a child that we believe is in eminent danger.” 

Lawmakers voted to change the response window to two hours.

Republican State Senator Houchin, who used to work for DCS, is one of the lawmakers working on the  preliminary draft bill that might be recommended when these meetings are finished. 

We asked Houchin why she didn’t like the idea of a four hour window. 

“It leaves too much room for error in terms of a child that might be in eminent danger of harm,” Houchin replied.

Democratic State Representative Ed DeLaney agrees with Houchin and their fellow study committee members.

“The legislature, so far, is of the mind to tell DCS that it really needs to move promptly if there’s an emergency situation involving a child who’s in some danger,” said DeLaney.

DeLaney said the next steps are to put some of today’s talking points into another preliminary draft and then come back on October 17 to talk more. 

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