DCS Under Fire For Returning Millions To State

Director Defends Decision To Spend Less

The Indiana Department of Child Services is under fire for returning more than $100 million to the state, a savings that some argue has come at the expense of Hoosier children.

Records show the agency gave back $103 million, or about 16.5 percent of its budget, to the state's general fund this past fiscal year, 6News' Joanna Massee reported.

DCS Director James Payne said his agency simply isn't spending as much as it used to, and that the savings come from keeping children in their homes instead of placing them in residential care.

"This system is never about money," he said. "We shouldn't just go out and spend money just because we have it. That is the antithesis of everything that private businesses, public businesses, including government, are doing."

But some child advocates argue that the number of children in danger of abuse and neglect hasn't declined and that $103 million could go a long way.

"Why not spend the money to try to address the problem even more?" asked State Rep. Bill Crawford, D-Indianapolis. "To the extent that we reduce the amount of resources, we can't provide the same levels of protection, and that's a major concern to many of us."

Payne said the reason fewer children are being placed in residential care is because they are traumatized by being pulled from their homes, even if there's dysfunction in their family. He said it's better to keep children with their parents or at least with relatives.

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