December 18, 2017

The Latest: Holcomb Disputes Child Welfare Chief's Claims

DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura, center, has led the agency since January 2013. - Brandon Smith/IPB News

DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura, center, has led the agency since January 2013.

Brandon Smith/IPB News

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Latest on the scathing resignation letter penned by outgoing Indiana Department of Child Services chief Mary Beth Bonaventura (all times local):

3 p.m.

Gov. Eric Holcomb is disputing allegations by his outgoing child welfare chief accusing his administration of slashing funding while Indiana is in the midst of an opioid crisis.

The Republican governor said Monday that funding for the Department of Child Services has actually increased over the recent years, not decreased.

Holcomb says that he shares the same commitment to children as outgoing agency director Mary Beth Bonaventura. She was appointed in 2013 to lead the agency by former Gov. Mike Pence, who is now vice president.

Bonaventura wrote in a scathing resignation letter dated Dec. 12 that "lives will be lost and families ruined" by service cuts mandated by Holcomb's administration.

Holcomb said he was grateful to Bonaventura for her service to the state. He wished her good luck.

12:18 p.m.

A Democratic Statehouse leader says a scathing resignation letter penned by Indiana's child welfare chief raises "highly disturbing questions" about Gov. Eric Holcomb's administration.

House Minority Leader Terry Goodin says Mary Beth Bonaventura's resignation draws into question Holcomb's commitment to protecting children. Bonaventura says budget cuts pursued by the Republican governor in the midst of an opioid addiction crisis could mean "lives will be lost and families ruined."

Goodin praised the job Bonaventura has done leading Indiana's Department of Child Services since 2013. He also called for an investigation into the allegations made in her resignation letter.

Goodin says Republicans have made maintaining the state's roughly $1.8 billion budget surplus a "higher priority" than protecting children.

Holcomb's office has not responded to Bonaventura's allegations

6:19 a.m.

The director of Indiana's child welfare agency says she's quitting because Gov. Eric Holcomb's administration has hurt her ability to protect children.

Mary Beth Bonaventura's resignation letter was obtained by the Indianapolis Star . She told the governor that his staff is cutting her budget and services in the midst of the opioid crisis.

Bonaventura fears "lives will be lost and families ruined" if changes aren't made. She says chief of staff Eric Miller was placed in her office by the governor, despite having no child welfare experience.

She says Miller is "bent on slashing" the budget and putting children at risk.

Bonaventura is stepping down Dec. 27 after nearly five years as director of the Indiana Department of Child Services. She's a former judge in Lake County.

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