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DCS Target Of New Class Action Lawsuit

Steve Burns, WFIU/WTIU News

The Indiana agency that oversees the state’s foster system is the target of a class action lawsuit filed Tuesday morning in federal court in Evansville. The suit accuses the Department of Child Services of violating children’s constitutional rights.

Nine children are named plaintiffs in the complaint, but lawyers in the case say it was filed on behalf of all current and future wards of the state.


Among the suit’s allegations: that the agency isn’t equipped to handle the specific needs of children with disabilities and that it’s placing too many kids in psychiatric hospitals.


According to the complaint, some of the children named as plaintiffs have been shuffled between foster homes more than fifteen times.


Melissa Keyes, legal director of Indiana Disability Rights, says the children aren’t seeking monetary damages, but policy changes.


"Our hope is that this lawsuit will be an opportunity to hold DCS accountable and make sure that they are making fundamental, systematic changes to how they provide services," Keyes says.


The suit also lists Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and DCS Director Terry Stigdon as defendants.


A DCS spokeswoman says the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation. Holcomb's office didn't respond to interview requests.

Isaiah Seibert is a reporter for WNIN in Evansville, Indiana. Growing up just outside Evansville, he returned to southwestern Indiana after graduating from Georgetown University in 2018. He previously interned for WNIN and The Hill.