October 25, 2016

Appeals Court Rules In Favor Of DCS Caseworker

Original story from   IPBS-RJC

Article origination IPBS-RJC
DCS director Mary Beth Bonaventura and Governor Mike Pence discuss caseloads at an August 2015 press conference. - Brandon Smith/IPBS

DCS director Mary Beth Bonaventura and Governor Mike Pence discuss caseloads at an August 2015 press conference.

Brandon Smith/IPBS

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that a lawsuit over Department of Child Services caseloads can move forward.

Indiana law says DCS must provide enough caseworkers so that the average caseload doesn’t exceed 17 children. All but one of the 19 regions in the state exceeds that standard. The ACLU of Indiana sued DCS on behalf of Mary Price, a caseworker who oversees 43 children. The lawsuit aimed to force the agency to hire more caseworkers.

A trial court judge ruled that Price had no right to sue and should use administrative channels. But a Court of Appeals’ decision says Price has no administrative remedy and her suit should proceed.

ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk calls the victory a “first step.”

“The case will go back to the trial court and now we’ll have a trial on whether or not the state is violating the case manager standards – which I think the state clearly is – and then what remedies should be imposed,” Falk says.

The state has not indicated whether it will appeal the court’s ruling.

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