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. Mary Beth Bonaventura was the agency's second director.
In 2018, Gov. Eric Holcomb appointed Terry Stigdon to direct the agency. Since then, DCS has focused on providing the right families with the right services and at the right time. The Family First Prevention Services Act passed in 2018, paving the way for the launch of Family Preservation Services in June 2020. Family Preservation is a per-diem model which utilizes evidence-based practices to provide concrete supports, meeting families when and where they are in need. Since launch, it has served more than 8,500 families and 17,000 children.
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.
The agency has worked diligently in the past five years to prioritize prevention and keeping children safe with their families, leading to a large reduction of children in care. Since the high point in 2017, the agency has seen a 56% decrease of children in residential care and a 45% decrease of children in foster care.
In 2022, DCS received approval from HHS for its Title IV-E Prevention Program Five-Year Plan, allowing the state to use federal funding for the first time to deliver prevention services.
Current director Eric Miller was appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb in May 2023.
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.