Marilyn Odendahl for www.theindianalawyer.com
The Department of Child Services will get some special attention from the Indiana Legislature since the agency has been included in among the topics to be reviewed by an interim study committee.
The Legislative Council voted 11-2 Tuesday to adopt a resolution assigning topics to the interim committees. Legislators will meet in the coming months to discuss the issues and prepare reports along with possible bills for the 2019 session of the Indiana General Assembly.
“The interim provides legislators an opportunity to thoroughly vet issues and determine whether to pursue legislation next session,” House Speaker Brian Bosma said. “Summer study committees play an integral role in our part-time legislature and help pave the way for lawmakers to address a wide range of issues when we convene again in January.”
The Interim Study Committee on Courts and Judiciary has been assigned to study issues related to DCS. Bosma said the specific issues to be studied would be determined after the report on the agency is completed in June the Child Welfare Policy & Practice Group. Then Legislative Council will meet to set the agenda for the DCS study.
DCS was thrown into the spotlight after executive director Mary Beth Bonaventura abruptly resigned in December 2017, accusing Gov. Eric Holcomb of cutting funds and putting children’s lives at risk. During the 2018 session of the Indiana General Assembly, Democrats repeatedly called for an investigation of the agency but the Republican leadership refused, wanting to wait until the outside consulting group had finished its review.
Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, offered the resolution that called for DCS to be assigned to a summer study committee.
“I’m just happy it was a bipartisan vote to move this forward,” Melton said after the Legislative Council meeting. “I think both sides of the aisle and both chambers see the importance of this and legislators being engaged and involved and ensure we support DCS as much as possible.”
The full list of committees and their assigned study topics can be read here.