(INDIANAPOLIS) - Thirty-six Hoosier children died from abuse or neglect last fiscal year. The death toll is down about 1/3 from 2006, when the state reported 53 deaths.
In nine of last year's cases, the Department of Child Services had already been involved but failed to prevent a death.
DCS Director James Payne says the department tries to remain involved with families as long as necessary to enable them to function on their own. He says the goal is to have no more than 5-8% of former DCS clients falling back into the system.
Lake, Elkhart and Marion Counties accounted for nearly half the statewide death toll. Four of Elkhart's six deaths came in a single case in November 2006, when a mentally ill woman strangled her four children.
Angelica Alvarez is serving life without parole after pleading guilty last September.
Payne and Governor Mitch Daniels presided over a swearing-in ceremony Monday for 35 new caseworkers, completing the state's goal of more than doubling its manpower.
The state now has nearly 1600 caseworkers, a level Payne says will allow more appropriate caseloads.
That will let caseworkers devote more attention to each family assigned to them.
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