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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, August 30, 2017 1:00 am

Court won't rule on caseload limits

Says Child Services issue not a judicial one

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Supreme Court says it can't force the state Department of Child Services to abide by caseload limits that are required by law.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana sued the department and its director in 2015 on behalf of family case manager Mary Price, the Indianapolis Star reported. Price argued that she and other workers had workloads that were too heavy and were putting children at risk.

The court ruled Monday that the caseload issue isn't one that can be resolved through a judicial decision. The court said it doesn't want to get involved in the department's daily operations.

“Granting relief here risks entangling the judiciary in the Department's day-to-day affairs – what would likely be a time-consuming intrusion beyond our institutional competence to discharge,” the court said.

Price was handling more than 40 cases when the suit was filed. State law requires case managers to handle no more than 17 ongoing cases or 12 initial assessments.

State records show that in fiscal year 2016, only one of the department's 19 regions was in compliance with the caseload restrictions.

Ken Falk, legal director of ACLU Indiana, said the organization is disappointed by the decision, which leaves case managers with too many children to oversee.

“This is something everyone in the state of Indiana should be concerned about,” Falk said. “There's a problem here that still hasn't been solved, and we'll need to see if there's other ways to resolve it.”

Legislators gave the agency an additional $200 million for the next two years.