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Lawsuit over DCS staffing heard in appeals court

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Indiana Court of Appeals will hear arguments on Wednesday in a case filed against the Department of Child Services.

In July 2015, DCS caseworker Mary Price filed a lawsuit in Marion County claiming the DCS is understaffed.

Price said according to state law, case managers can supervise no more than 17 children at one time. At the time of the suit’s filing, Price said she was responsible for 43 cases.

With help from the American Civil Liberties Union, the lawsuit asked the court for an injunction to force DCS to address the need for more case managers.

In February 2016, a Marion County judge dismissed the case ruling the court was not the venue for the employee’s complaint. It was suggested that Price take her argument to the State Employee Appeals Commission, an executive board.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller represented the State and would continue to in the event of an appeal.

“We appreciate the personal commitment these professionals make on behalf of the most vulnerable young Hoosiers,” Zoeller said. “Under the law the legislature passed it was decided that the judicial branch was not the proper place for this discussion. It ultimately is up to the people’s elected representatives in the legislature to determine resources for the DCS and up to the executive branch to manage those resources.”

An appeal hearing was scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday. Both sides will have 20 minutes to argue the case in front of a panel of three judges.