INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Governor Eric Holcomb ceremonially signed two big bills designed to overhaul Indiana’s child welfare system on Thursday.
The ceremonial signing comes after the Department of Child Services announced sweeping changes within the last year.
“We have one (foster child) right now, but my husband and I have hosted more than 40 children,” Allie Missler explained Thursday.
Being a foster parent means the world to Allie Missler. She went to the Statehouse Thursday to watch Gov. Holcomb ceremonially sign the two bills.
“Every child deserves a chance,” Missler said. “They should feel lucky they were born in Indiana, because we’re good people and we’ll help. We just have to show people how.”
Both bills have already been signed into law.
The first bill gives foster families stronger support and helps them keep children in the most family-like settings when they’re placed in homes.
The second bill is born of Governor Eric Holcomb and DCS Director Terry Stigdon’s promise for changes, following the recommendations from the months-long independent audit of DCS last year.
“As an agency, we have dedicated more resources to improve our recruitment and retention of foster parents,” DCS director Terry Stigdon said Thursday.
The yearly staff turnover within the entire department is down by more than 18% from 2017-18, Stigdon said. It’s down almost 19% for family case managers.
“This decrease in turnover is partly because of the supplemental funding announced by Governor Holcomb last year,” Stigdon explained. “Which was used to increase salaries for front-line employees, which in turn positively impacted employee moral.”
One of the bills earmarks millions of dollars to hire more family case managers and supervisors.
“We’ve hired so many,” Stigdon said. “That’s how we have achieved a 99% compliance with the child 12/17 caseload. We now have the flexibility to hire based on what we need.”
A DCS spokeswoman said Thursday, they want to hire 70 family case managers, and 50-60 family case manager supervisors by the end of the year.
Stigdon and Gov. Holcomb said they’ve done a lot of work as a whole, but they’re not finished.
“One tragic case is too many,” Gov. Holcomb explained Thursday. “We have to be ready to address every single case that comes to us, and that’s what we’re doing.”
If you are interested in applying for one of the open DCS position, you can apply here.