Governor extols state partnership with School of Social Work

The Indiana University School of Social Work and the Indiana Department of Child Services have created an extraordinary partnership with incalculable benefits in the life and death mission of protecting the state’s most vulnerable children, Gov. Mitch Daniels said at the IUPUI Spirit of Philanthropy ceremony on Tuesday.

“It is the single best example I know of, of close collaboration between people in public service and the great university assets we have in this state,” Daniels said. The governor attended the ceremony to help honor Judge James Payne, the director of the Department of Child Services and the partnership between DCS and the School of Social Work.

Jugde Pane with governor Daniels“The people that you have trained here at IUPUI are saving the lives of little ones on a daily basis in ways we can’t count and probably they can’t even know absent the preparation they got here.”

“I am so please also for the chance to share, not just with those who know the story well, but those who are here on behalf of other schools, who may be hearing for the first time of the great public service achievements in my view, perhaps the most important of those which I had a chance to be associated,” Daniels said.

“That is what Jim Payne and his colleagues have achieved in protecting the most vulnerable of our children – those at risk of abuse or neglect. I will tell that which should be told and one day will be told in volumes and is already been lauded around the country, I will tell it in the fastest version possible.”

In 2005, by every account, Indiana had the worst child protective system in the country, statistically, subjectively, Daniels reminded his audience of some 300 people at the Campus Center on the IUPUI campus. “The local newspaper had won awards for its scathing – it is not too strong a term for its series about the failures of our system to protect the most vulnerable among us, our little ones.”

Daniels, who had just been elected governor in 2004, said he was among those coming into public service at a time of great fiscal problems for the state – the state was bankrupt by all measures. Even so, Daniels said they realized this was not a problem that could wait. “We doubled the number of case workers in the context of the tightest budget in Indiana in more than a half century. “The only increase was for the protection of children,” the governor said.

On the governor’s first day in office, he created the Department of Child Services by executive order, which was later codified into statue. Its main mission was to improve the protection of children. “Six years later we have an award winning, best in America – a literally worst to first story.”

“The story I want to tell you is how we got there and the role that IUPUI has played in it so directly. As almost always is the case in public life, dollars alone do not do the job. You can pour money into a bad system and all you get is more of a bad system and more bad results.”

So, a fundamental change was needed to create a whole new practice model more in keeping with the realities of modern family life and needs of children in this age, to go from the backwaters to the front edge in the way all these new case workers and all their new supervisors would approach their work.

“We struck up a tremendous partnership with the School of Social Work at IUPUI. It is the type of partnership the state needs to take inspiration from and replicate it elsewhere, Daniels said. “The fabulous people at the School of Social Work, Dean Michael Patchner and his colleagues have put together a program that has now led to the retraining of all the employees that we already had and the training of the hundreds of new ones who have come to the protection of children as their life mission. We are now into three digits in terms of Master (of Social Work) grads working for the new Department of Child Services and its new larger and modern configuration.” Many more are in the process now of achieving their degrees and their own leadership positions, he added.

Governor Daniels and FacultyDaniels was speaking of the collaboration between the DCS and the School of Social Work to better protect children at risk of abuse and neglect – the Child Welfare Education and Training Partnership. The partnership is designed to provide high-quality social work education and statewide training for public child welfare employees. It provides Bachelor of Social Work students with preparation for employment as a family case manager; it allows DCS employees to enroll in the School’s part-time Master of Social Work Program; and it provides state-of-the-art training to current DCS employees. This partnership is recognized nationally for its success and for its joint collaborative operation and the upward mobility of the graduates, many of whom have been promoted to supervisory or management positions with DCS. Because of these efforts, Indiana is now seen as a model for the provision of public services that support children and families.

“This has just been an extraordinary partnership with incalculable benefits in this life and death mission,” Daniels said. The governor noted that whenever he gets a chance, he likes to attend the swearing in of new case workers and managers. “We treat it as solemnly as the swearing in of National Guard officers, as solemnly we treat the swearing in of new State Policemen,” Daniels said.

Daniels said that even before he took the oath of office, he began thinking of who had the largest heart, the most knowledge and the deepest experience in protecting children who are so tragically and inexplicably menaced all too often in today’s society, to lead the new DCS agency. “The answer was Judge Jim Payne,” a man with more than 20 years experience, who had seen it all, heard it all and acted in a way that had brought him a national reputation as a Marion Juvenile Court judge. “The day Judge Payne said he would take on the enormous challenge, this ghastly failing system …I knew we would leave behind a system that did better by children than any other in the country.”

Daniels noted he has been reading Paul Johnson’s, “Jesus: A Biography from a Believer” and came to realize that the word philanthropy really means love of all mankind. “I thought that usage has two very pertinent applications here today,” Daniels said. One is Jim Payne, who has an abundant love for everyone, especially our little ones, he noted. The second is “this school and all the people who make it up,” he said. “I don’t think it stretches the point to say the mission of the school and those whom we honor today expresses philanthropy in its broadest sense. That we are all in the end, children of one Earth, one maker and all bound up in the well-being of each other.”

In closing, Daniels expressed thanks for a “chance to drop in and say a word about Jim, the School of Social Work, about all the great things they have done and even more so, for a chance to congratulate all the winners, all the great achievements that this rising, fabulous institution is making happen every day.”

Press Release Contact:
Rob Schneider
IUPUI
robschn@iupui.edu
(317) 278-0303