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Child and Family Services Review

PIP Closeout Letter (April 2021)

DCS PIP and Executive Summary (December 2018)

Child and Family Services Review - Final Report (December 2016)

Child and Family Services Review - Statewide Assessment (Aprill 2014)

Program Improvement Plan (PIP)

After the 2016 Child and Family Service Review (CFSR) final report, the Indiana Department of Child Services worked with the Children’s Bureau to develop a Program Improvement Plan (PIP). An initial proposal was submitted in April 2017, and in December 2018, negotiations were finalized to meet the required expectations to address the performance areas identified in the CFSR. The PIP was approved and the agency had two years to implement the identified improvements. Failure to meet targets could have resulted in a fine of approximately $2.4 million.

DCS' PIP, linked above, was approved on Jan. 1, 2019.

Click on a category below for a detailed breakdown.

  • Summary of Performance from the CSR Final Report 2016

    The following are the Children’s Bureau’s observations about cross-cutting issues and Indiana’s overall performance:

    "Data provided in the statewide assessment and information collected during stakeholder interviews indicated issues that may affect the provision of child welfare services in the state. These include an increasing number of reports of child maltreatment received and an increase in the foster care population. The state attributes the growth in the foster care population to an increase in the number of cases involving parental substance abuse. The Children’s Bureau identified cross-cutting concerns during the review that included high caseworker caseloads, low retention of employees, and a lack of qualified service providers. These, along with the increase in the number of maltreatment reports and the number of children in foster care, could present challenges to assuring child safety and permanency. We encourage Indiana to consider this context in addressing the specific challenges noted in these comments and throughout the Final Report.

    Several years ago, Indiana reorganized and the Juvenile Probation Department became part of the DCS. In Indiana, some youth who are involved in the juvenile justice system are in the placement and care responsibility of DCS. While they are placed in foster care, they are primarily served through probation officers. We found that Indiana has more work to do to ensure child welfare systems and child protection requirements are being met for these youth. For example, we noted challenges in systemic factor functioning because of insufficient training for probation workers in child welfare approaches, and a lack of access to information systems. Appropriate placement resources are not as accessible to juvenile justice-involved youth and there is also a lack of adequate case planning and access to services for these probation-managed foster care cases.

    An insufficient array of appropriate services and service providers appears to have negatively affected performance on some of the outcomes for all children. Stakeholders indicated that transportation of families to visits and services continues to be a significant need for Indiana. There also continues to be a lack of foster homes that can meet the needs of the children in care. During the stakeholder interviews, there were examples provided of sibling groups not being placed together due to the lack of available foster homes. The Independent Living population—which includes youth 14 years of age and older in addition to youth aging out of care—is another area of concern. It appears that limited work has been done to maintain connections for these youth and link them with the proper resources to prepare for independence.

    The review also identified areas of concern regarding assessing and managing safety and risk. As described in the statewide assessment, Indiana has a tiered policy for timely initiation of assessments of 1 hour, 24 hours, and 5 days for face-to-face contact with children who are the subject of a report of child maltreatment. Reviewers found that in some cases these time frames were not met. This was an issue across the different types of maltreatment reports. Reviewers also found that assessments were not always done until after a second report was received. The Children’s Bureau urges the state to address these risk and safety practice concerns. 

    The Children’s Bureau is concerned with Indiana’s practice of Informal Adjustment (IA). An IA is a written agreement between DCS and the child’s parents that outlines what the parents must do to keep their child safe. It may include a multitude of services. Although the court must agree to and monitor the IA, the child is not a Child in Need of Services (CHINS). Depending on the county and the circumstances of the case, the degree of court monitoring varies and families may not have ever attended court. The case review results also showed that these families were receiving services in some cases, while in others very few services were offered or provided.

    For Permanency Outcome 1, only 30% of the cases were found to be in substantial conformity. Many of the items relating to permanency were rated as Areas Needing Improvement. Specifically, the case results found that the state is having challenges establishing permanency goals for children timely. The Children’s Bureau urges the state to address this and other Permanency Outcome 1 item challenges. 

    Indiana has implemented the practice of Child and Family Team Meetings. When used appropriately, Child and Family Team Meetings were seen as a definite strength because they support comprehensive case planning focused on family supports. The Child and Family Team Meetings assist the Family Case Manager in identifying and understanding the family’s underlying needs. However, the case review results indicated that when the Child and Family Team Meetings are not being used appropriately, a significant barrier to achieving case goals and addressing the issues relevant to the agency’s involvement with the family results as the needs of the children, parents and foster parents are not comprehensively assessed. In many cases, review results found that the assessment and services provided focus on the presenting problem, but do not identify and address the underlying issues relating to abuse and neglect. 

    The systemic factor of Agency Responsiveness to the Community was found to be functioning in substantial conformity. The Children’s Bureau believes that with this system in place and functioning, Indiana can address other program areas and outcomes that need improvement. Indiana’s engagement of key stakeholders who share responsibility for systemic improvement and strategic planning will be critical to the success of ongoing work."

  • Performance Outcomes

    Safety Outcome 1: Children Are Protected from Abuse, Neglect - 31%

    Item 1. Timeliness of Initiating Investigations

    Safety Outcome 2: Children Safely Maintained in their Homes - 71%

    Item 2. Services to Family to Protect Child in the Home, Prevent Removal/Re-entry - 90%

    Item 3. Risk & Safety Assessment & Management - 71%

    Permanency Outcome 1: Children Have Permanency, Stability in their Living Situations - 30%

    Item 4. Stability of Placement - 78%

    Item 5. Permanency Goal for Child - 60%

    Item 6. Achieving Reunification, Guardianship, Adoption or Other Planned Permanent Living Arrangement - 53%

    Permanency Outcome 2: Continuity of Family Relationships, Connection is Preserved - 70%

    Item 7. Placement w/Siblings - 78%

    Item 8. Visiting w/Parents, Siblings in Care - 67%

    Item 9. Preserving Connections - 65%

    Item 10. Relative Placement - 81%

    Item 11. Relationship w/Parents - 63%

    Well-Being Outcome 1: Families Have Enhanced Capacity to Provide for Children’s Needs - 38%

    Item 12. Needs, Services of Children, Parents, Foster Parents - 40%

    Item 13. Child, Family Involvement in Case Planning - 48%

    Item 14. Caseworker Visits w/Child - 78%

    Item 15. Caseworker Visits w/Parents - 32%

    Well-Being Outcome 2: Children Receive Appropriate Services to Meet Educational Needs - 74%

    Item 16. Education Needs of Child - 74%

    Well-Being Outcome 3: Children receive adequate services to meet their physical, mental health needs - 62%

    Item 17. Physical Health - 69%

    Item 18. Mental/Behavioral Health - 68%

  • Systemic Factors

    Statewide Information System

    Item 19. Statewide Information System

    Case Review System

    Item 20. Written Case Plan

    Item 21. Periodic Reviews

    Item 22. Permanency Hearings

    Item 23. Termination of Parental Rights

    Item 24. Notice of Hearings, Reviews to Caregivers

    Quality Assurance System

    Item 25. Quality Assurance System

    Staff, Provider Training

    Item 26. Initial Staff Training

    Item 27. Ongoing Staff Training

    Item 28. Foster, Adoptive Parent Training

    Service Array, Resource Development

    Item 29. Array of Services

    Item 30. Individualized Services

    Agency Responsiveness to the Community

    Item 31. State Engagement, Consultation w/Stakeholders

    Item 32. Coordination of Services w/Federal Programs

    Foster, Adoptive Parent Licensing, Recruitment, Retention

    Item 33. Standards Applied Equally

    Item 34. Requirements for Criminal Background Checks

    Item 35. Diligent Recruitment of Foster, Adoptive Homes

    Item 36. Cross-Jurisdictional Resources for Permanent Placements