Complaints to DCS 'watchdog' rising

INDIANAPOLIS - More parents, grandparents and concerned citizens are filing complaints with the Department of Child Services Ombudsman Bureau, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.

The Indiana Legislature established the office in 2009 to provide more oversight over DCS and evaluate the effectiveness of its policies and procedures.

According to the annual report just released by director Alfreda Singleton-Smith , 210 cases were opened in 2013, 210 were closed and 267 were active during the course of the year.

In 2012, 174 cases were opened, 167 were closed and 180 were active during the course of the year.

In the report, Singleton-Smith credits the increase to the heightened community awareness about the DCS Ombudsman Bureau .

When a complaint is filed with the ombudsman bureau about DCS, a case is opened and reviewed.

According to the report, 85 percent of complaints were reviewed, referred or resolved among DCS and the person filing the complaint.  

Only 2 percent of the cases were investigated, according to the report.

During an investigation of DCS, staff members are often interviewed, and experts are consulted if needed.

"Complaints that result in an investigation tend to have multiple allegations with little indication that a resolution is likely,” read the report.

The report also indicated that the majority of complaints made to the DCS Ombudsman Bureau are determined to be without merit.

"The Ombudsmen report is an independent look at how to improve DCS processes.  DCS has, and will continue to use the recommendations to protect Hoosier children from abuse and neglect and work to ensure their financial support," said James Wide, DCS spokesperson in an email to Kenney.

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