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History of DCS

The Indiana Department of Child Services was established in January 2005 by executive order of Gov. Mitch Daniels. The agency was charged with overseeing child welfare and child-support enforcement. These duties had previously been performed by the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, a large state agency that oversees a number of social service programs. James W. Payne, a juvenile court judge from Marion County, was named the agency’s first director.

DCS’ Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline was created in 2010, providing a central location for child abuse and neglect reporting. There were previously more than 350 locations taking these reports. Although the number of reports has increased exponentially since the hotline was established, handling of those reports has become more thorough and better-documented.

In 2012, the Collaborative Care program was established to prevent older youth from “aging out” of foster care. This program is designed for young adults aged 18-20 who voluntarily request to remain in or reenter into foster care with services.

In 2013, Gov. Mike Pence appointed Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura to direct the agency.

Current director Terry Stigdon was appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb in early 2018.

Around the same time Director Stigdon joined the agency, DCS underwent a thorough assessment by the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group. Gov. Holcomb asked CWG to compare the agency’s performance of child-welfare services to accepted standards, identify strengths and challenges, and recommend improvements. Reforms implemented after CWG’s recommendations include lighter caseloads for family case managers, an improved workplace culture and increased pay for employees.


DCS protects children who are victims of abuse or neglect and strengthens families through services that focus on family support and preservation. The department also administers child support, child protection, adoption and foster care throughout the state of Indiana.

The DCS central office is located in room E306 of the Indiana Government Center South at 302 W. Washington St. in Indianapolis.


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