October 9, 2015

High Caseloads Fuel Resignations of Child Services Workers

INDIANAPOLIS  — The Indiana Department of Child Services is seeing a higher percentage of its family case managers leave the agency, its director told the DCS Oversight Committee.

Agency records show September's turnover rate of 24.1 percent is the lowest since at least 2007. That rate was 21.7 percent over the last fiscal year, The Indianapolis Star reported. The data counts managers who left the agency, not those who were promoted or transferred.

DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura told the committee that case managers are leaving because of higher caseloads. Agency records show that there were about 19,500 children in its welfare system last month, which was about 40 percent more than in September 2013.

DCS has responded by adding 213 family case managers positions this year, but 75 of those jobs haven't been filled. Bonaventura says state officials are determining which regional offices need those positions.

State law requires case managers handle a certain of cases at once. Just one of 19 DCS regions complies.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit earlier this year on behalf of DCS family case managers claiming that by not complying with state law, DCS was making it difficult for managers to do their jobs and putting children at risk.

Bonaventura also said the agency is reworking case-manager duties to reduce paperwork and is providing more training for supervisors.

"When you're stressed out, it's sometimes easy to find other employment," Bonaventura said.

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