- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 25, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indiana Department of Child Services has surpassed its budget by $284 million with two months left in the fiscal year.

The state Budget Committee heard about the issue Tuesday, The Journal Gazette reported .

Lawmakers gave the agency $125 million more for fiscal 2018 than its previous budget. The state Office of Management and Budget also identified $324 million in excess dollars that could go to the department.

The department already spent all of its allotted budget and most of the excess. The Family and Social Services Administration and Medicaid reserves have been providing most of the excess funds, said Jason Dudich, the state budget director.

The Child Services Department doesn’t have enough family case managers to oversee the high number of abused and neglected children. The department had less than 90 percent of needed case managers, which is about 180 positions, according to a December report on fiscal 2017. That percentage has decreased to 83 percent despite hiring efforts.

The department has also seen about a 25 percent turnover rate for family case managers, which is likely due to the stressful caseload and low base salary, Dudich said.

The agency is also in the midst of an outside review after the abrupt departure of its former director, who criticized Gov. Eric Holcomb for service cuts and management changes she said would harm children.

Holcomb has said he believes any department-related issues that arise from a consultant’s report won’t need action by the Legislature until next year.

It’s too early to tell how much money the agency will need in the future, said Terry Stigdon, the department’s director. She said the agency will have a better idea of what resources it needs after the report is completed in June.

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Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net


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