Changes coming for children?
Better late than never, the head of Indiana’s Department of Child Services is considering policy changes that should better protect abused children.
DCS Director James Payne said the department will re-examine how its employees respond to reports of abuse or neglect by someone who didn’t witness it firsthand.
The change comes too late for Tramelle Sturgis, a 10-year-old South Bend boy beaten to death in November. A caller had phoned the statewide hotline six months earlier to report children being beaten at Tramelle’s home, but no one was sent to investigate until the next day. Case managers visited three times before finding someone at home the fourth day after the call. They determined there was no evidence and closed the case.
Payne acknowledged this month that DCS probably should have responded to the hotline call within an hour instead of 24 hours, although he said he didn’t believe the investigation would have ended differently.
The DCS director also said the agency will consider whether case managers and law enforcement officials should respond together instead of at separate times.
Since 2007, 25 Indiana children have died of abuse or neglect after investigations by DCS. Policy changes are clearly needed.