Rescuing the Department of Child Services


Some of the state’s most powerful lawmakers and leaders gathered at the Statehouse Monday, to talk about what’s next for the Department of Child Services.

The meeting comes just weeks after Governor Eric Holcomb allotted an additional $25 Million to the troubled department.

Lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution at that meeting. It gives a few details about the topics assigned to a Summer Study Committee just for DCS.

Well into Monday’s Legislative Council meeting, Democratic Leaders asked DCS’s new Director, Terry Stigdon, to describe the “culture of fear” that lawmakers said they heard DCS workers endure.

DCS Director Terry Stigdon said “Fear, that if they make a mistake, they’ll be immediately terminated. We’re human beings. As much as we’d like to be perfect, we can’t be. The fear to ask questions. We know if you can’t ask a question, how do you learn? That was something I found as well, when I visited around the state.”

Stigdon said that’s got to change.

Remember….DCS just finished a complete audit weeks ago, as ordered by Governor Eric Holcomb.
Even after hearing directly from DCS’ new director, Democrat Senator, Karen Tallian, said she’s still confused about exactly how much money DCS needs to right the ship.

State Senator Karen Tallian, a Democrat from Portage said (D) ” Getting the money straight with DCS has got to be a priority. We heard from Mary Beth Bonaventura that she didn’t have enough money to operate, to hire the case managers she needed.

Republican leaders praised the Holcomb administration for taking action to fix DCS. House Speaker Brian Bosma aknowledged problems within the department for years. Bosma also noted he learned around February that a  DCS audit from a year and hadn’t been put into practice.

Brian Bosma, Republican Speaker of the House said “I don’t know that I’m upset or angered by that. It was in the hands of a person who had been very critical of the department, so that was a bit disturbing that there was a report available that perhaps could have addressed some of the issues.”

So, what happens next?

The DCS Oversight committee is scheduled to meet in just about two weeks, on July 18th. We’re expecting more developments to come from that meeting, and as DCS continues to dive into the most recent audit recommendations.

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