A veteran of the Indiana Department of child services is resigning in protest of policies put in place by the state’s ultra-conservative governor – a protege of Vice President Mike Pence – that she says “all but ensures that children will die.”
Mary Beth Bonaventura says after 36 years working in child welfare that she can no longer stand by in good conscience as cuts in services, changes in policies and staff reductions mean that children are “systematically placed at risk,” leaving her “without the ability to help them.”
“I feel I am unable to protect children because of the position taken by your staff to cut funding and services to children in the midst of an opioid crisis,” Bonaventura wrote in a resignation letter to Governor Eric Holcomb on December 12.
“I choose to resign,” she added, “rather than be complicit in decreasing the safety, permanency, and well-being of children who have nowhere else to turn.”
Bonaventura warned that without changes, “I fear lives will be lost and families ruined.”
Without serious changes, Mary Beth Bonaventura warned, "I fear lives will be lost and families ruined." https://t.co/sFZsVWOdIK
— Marisa Kwiatkowski (@IndyMarisaK) December 18, 2017
She was appointed by then-Governor Pence in 2013, after 31 years spent working in the juvenile court system as a referee, magistrate and then from 1993 onward as an elected judge.
Bonaventura charges that Holcomb, who, like Pence, is a political conservative who is pro-business and anti-abortion, put a political pal, Eric Miller, with no child welfare experience ahead of her, stripping her of her ability to run the agency.
Miller, the IndyStar reports, “engineered his own hires, exposed the agency to lawsuits, had overridden her decisions, been ‘brazenly insubordinate’ and made cost-cutting decisions without her knowledge.”
She said that Miller is “bent on slashing our budget in ways that all but ensure children will die.”
Bonaventura said DCS Child Support Bureau’s antiquated technology is “on the verge of collapse” which would impact prosecutors, parents and anyone who gets or pays child support.
She said they had spent years getting bids, designing a new system and getting federal grants to help pay for a new system but Holcomb’s staff ordered her to cancel the plan “risking a financial crisis for millions of Hoosier families.”
She also charged that staff reductions forced on her agency will leave more than 1,000 families without court-ordered services.
The Democrats, who are in the minority in Indiana, have called for an investigation but the Republicans have not agreed. Instead, Holcomb said he is looking for a replacement who will share his commitment to the health and well-being of the state’s children.
In other words, a fiscal conservative who is supported by business and churches is following the Republican blueprint of cutting services that actually help people in order to redeploy money into areas that will place commercial interests and political cronies.
With DSC Director Mary Beth Bonaventura's resignation this weekend, recall this Star story from Aug. 29th: "Indiana Supreme Court says it can't force DCS to comply with caseload" limits https://t.co/ZO8JUj6rSh via @indystar
— Indiana Law Blog (@indianalawblog) December 18, 2017
The sad part is that it is the children of Indiana who need help, who are caught up in a family crisis, who are whipsawed by divorce, and who live in poverty are the victims of self-righteous, overly pious, self-centered Republicans who would rather pinch pennies than help children in need.
It may be Holcomb pulling the strings but it is the legacy of Trump’s VP Pence that continues to plague the state of Indiana and keep it looking backward and away from ways to help people instead of forward in a world where people – and children – should come first.
Wherever you’re at Mary Beth Bonaventura, Thank You for your Bravery & Courageous act you did, for SPEAKING & STANDING up for Children’s Rights & well being! Your my HERO!!
From Az https://t.co/5Me56mcHZ8
— ssanchez (@chenysan_15) December 18, 2017