Senate to look at DCS Caseload Bill

The latest attempt to get control of swelling child-welfare caseloads is headed for the Senate.

Governor Holcomb is asking for an extra 300-million dollars in this year’s budget to keep up with caseloads at the Department of Child Services. Legislators rejected a recommendation from an outside consultant to scale back laws which require investigations in some circumstances. But the House has unanimously approved a ban on opening cases solely because a family is too poor to afford basic food or shelter.

The bill also caps how many families a caseworker can be assigned at once. Legislators have tried that before — neither the old law nor the new one includes a way to enforce the limit. Republicans rejected a Democratic amendment last week which would have required the agency to hire as many caseworkers as necessary to stay under the caps.

Avon Republican Greg Steuerwald (R) says D-C-S is in a tough position, being criticized by some for removing too many children from homes, and by others for not removing enough.

The Senate will take up the bill in March.