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INDIANAPOLIS — The Alabama-based Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group on Monday will release its six-month, top-to-bottom review of Indiana Department of Child Services programs, practices, systems, staffing, funding and results.

In December, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb ordered the independent assessment of the state's child protection agency following the scathing resignation letter submitted by DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura, a former Lake County juvenile court judge.

Bonaventura claimed that Holcomb's management and spending policies in regard to state assistance for abused and neglected kids and teens "all but ensure children will die."

"I choose to resign rather than be complicit in decreasing the safety, permanency and well-being of children who have nowhere else to turn," Bonaventura said.

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Holcomb disagreed with Bonaventura's characterization of DCS funding, pointing to substantial annual budget increases approved by the Republican-controlled General Assembly in April 2017, and an extra $137 million given to DCS in June 2017.

At the same time, Holcomb said a complete, outside assessment was needed to understand what DCS is doing right, what requires more work and how Indiana compares to other states.

"I'm encouraged and optimistic about what Indiana can accomplish to improve DCS and, in turn, the lives of Hoosier kids and families," Holcomb said.

The Legislative Council next month also is set to examine what actions the Indiana House and Senate might take in the 2019 session to reform the child protection agency.

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