News and Tribune

Clark County

February 5, 2010

Indiana Department Child Services cutting work force in half

Local jobs moving to Indianapolis



The Indiana Department of Child Services will be cutting about 75 to 80 workers, which consists of local financial positions such as bookkeepers and account clerks, as the state is moving to centralize its work force in Indianapolis.

The department had up to 195 financial worker positions, 160 of which were filled, before the decision to consolidate was made, said Ann Houseworth, the department’s communications director. “Statewide administrative operations will shift to [the] DCS central office and will result in an elimination of all local office fiscal positions,” said a letter from Douglas Weinberg, chief financial officer for DCS, to child services employees.

About half of those workers — 75 to 80 — were already located in the central office; the remaining workers were located a local branch offices and are the employees now being cut.

The roots of the restructuring go back to 2008, with the implementation of House Bill 1001, which allowed the property tax caps to be put into place and changed the funding structure to several government entities. The local child services offices formerly collected money from local property taxes.

After the funding mechanism was changed, the task of funding the local offices became too daunting, Houseworth said. The consolidation effort is likely to take place in late March or early April and be finalized by June, Houseworth said.

The transition is expected to save the state about $2 million to $2.5 million annually, according to an Associated Press report.

For those employees that are being eliminated, Indiana does not offer a severance package, but the employees will receive priority consideration if they choose to apply for other state positions, Houseworth said.



LOCAL IMPACT

But workers in local offices where the positions are being eliminated believe the number of employees being affected is woefully underestimated.

“The article from Indy [the Indianapolis Star published a report on the consolidation effort written by the Associated Press] makes it look like they’re only going to be 80 [layoffs], but it looks like it’ll be closer to 300,” said Kathy Stepp, a secretary at the local DCS office.

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