DCS Liable for Failure to Notify a Victim’s Family?

A November 26, 2013, decision by the Indiana Supreme Court (F.D., G.D., and T.D. b/n/f J.D. and M.D.; and J.D. and M.D. individually, v. Indiana Department of Child Services, Evansville Police Department, and Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office) held that DCS is not immune from an action for damages for negligence after allegedly mishandling child abuse reports.  The plaintiffs allege that DCS was notified by law enforcement that L.C. had inappropriately touched T.D., in addition to another known victim, F.D.  DCS did not notify the parents of F.D. of the allegation, pursuant to I.C. 31-33-18-4.

Specifically, DCS is required, whenever a child abuse or neglect assessment is conducted, to give verbal and written notice to each parent, guardian or custodian that the child abuse or neglect assessment reports and information and the juvenile court records, if the matter is pursued, are available upon request.

The case has been remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

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