— A state ombudsman has told the Indiana Department of Child Services its
investigations into child deaths and near-fatalities still can take too
Singleton-Smith recommended the child welfare agency develop a plan to
speed up its investigation of such cases, The Indianapolis Star reported).
implemented a policy in 2012 to complete such assessments within 180 days.
The new ombudsman's report covering 2013, which was released last week,
said the agency still isn't always meeting that deadline but did not
include details on those troubles.
told Singleton-Smith that the agency's assessments can be delayed by
reports from other agencies and coordination with county prosecutor's
offices and police investigators.
report is an independent look at how to improve DCS processes," agency
spokesman James Wide said. "DCS has (used) and will continue to use the
recommendations to protect Hoosier children from abuse and neglect and
work to ensure their financial support."
fatality recommendation was in response to changes made in 2012, after the
ombudsman found DCS was taking nearly two years to complete some of its
fatality and near-fatality investigations.
The new report
said the ombudsman's office fielded 607 complaints about the child welfare
agency in 2013, a slight increase from the year before. The bureau opened
cases on 210 of them.
established the Ombudsman Bureau in 2009 amid concerns about the deaths of
several children involved with DCS, and about a growing number of children
being removed from their families.