Payne paved way for next DCS change


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The (Munster) Times

James Payne offered the necessary next reform for the Indiana Department of Child Services — by resigning from the agency he founded.

Payne’s recent resignation came the day after the Indianapolis Star reported on his involvement in a child neglect case involving his grandchildren. That appears to have violated the agency’s code of conduct, which of course forbids agency staff from getting involved in cases involving relatives.

Even if The Star had not reported on that case, though, it was time for Payne to leave the agency.

Gov. Mitch Daniels defended his hand-picked DCS director in his statement last Monday: “The leading national authorities are unanimous in praising Indiana’s improvements in child protection, often labeled ‘worst to first,’ during Jim Payne’s tenure.”

To his credit, Payne reduced the workload for caseworkers by going on a hiring spree. But other actions Payne took were a detriment to the agency’s mission.

Payne prided himself on returning millions of unspent DCS dollars to the state treasury, even as some children failed to receive the level of care they needed.

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