|Our journey to protect Indiana’s abused and neglected children has resumed again this summer.
At the end of July, I took part in the first meeting of the Child Services Oversight Committee, the group created by the Indiana General Assembly last session as part of the reforms designed to correct the mess at the state’s Department of Child Services (DCS).
I have had several opportunities to meet with Mary Beth Bonaventura, the new DCS director, and I must tell you that I can say things are changing in the way that the agency operates these days. Rather than be an adversary to our efforts to protect Hoosier children, they are working with state and local officials to get things done the right way.
In the July meeting, Mary Beth and other DCS officials identified three areas of improvement in the coming months:
What is heartening is that these goals are shared by many of us who have seen this system stagnate through the years. I truly feel that we are on the right path.
But even though the signs of improvement are there, we were also reminded that our task is not a simple one.
As the oversight committee began to meet, a report was issued that shows Indiana ranks third in the nation in infant mortality.
This article demonstrates that dramatic changes still are needed to our child protection systems. We need greater diligence to investigate the causes of these tragedies and come up with the solutions that will end them.
This is why we spent so much time last summer and this past session on the state’s new child fatality review committee. This new process ensures local reviews of reports of death, abuse and neglect, which means local officials with the best knowledge of the situations will have the chance to take a look at what happened. It takes advantage of the expertise of people like county prosecutors, and enables those folks to have greater input on decisions that can save lives.
We are not done with our task, but I feel the signs are encouraging that we actually can have a state where children are never abused or neglected.
Filed Under: Political