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'He's a public official': DCS director declines interview despite calls for transparency

Miller took over as director in May 2023 after chief of staff since 2017
DCS Director Eric Miller
Posted at 3:29 PM, Sep 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-05 18:40:11-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Department of Child Services Director is arguably one of the most important jobs in the state--- overseeing the welfare of abused and neglected children.

Governor Eric Holcomb appointed Eric Miller to DCS director.

Miller took over in May 2023 following the resignation of Terry Stigdon and earns a salary of $195,000/year.

Prior to that, Miller served as DCS Chief of Staff for nearly 6 years.


Since taking over as director, the Indiana Department of Child Services has declined WRTV Investigates’ repeated requests to speak with Miller on-camera about his plans for the agency.

According to a job description for Miller and other executive branch heads, an essential function of the role is to “Communicate with news and other media and respond to media questions or requests in an appropriate public relations manner.”

Miller’s perceived lack of transparency is not sitting with foster parents and lawmakers.

"This is a taxpayer funded agency,” said Braelynn Yerington, a Zionsville mom who has served as a foster parent. “He is a taxpayer funded official. And these are our children. "

Yerington founded Champions for Children, a grassroots organization aimed at improving child welfare in Indiana.

Melody Gandy of Zionsville is a member of Champions for Children.

Both women served as foster parents and adopted children from the state’s child welfare system.


They say Indiana DCS made mistakes that disrupted the adoption process.

"We had to hire a private attorney to get our kids out of the system,” said Yerington. “DCS made a legal error that had to start the case over. I could have purchased a car for what we had to spend to get this child out of the system."

“I would say my biggest concern with DCS is the lack of urgency at times and filing appropriate things on time,” said Gandy. “Some of these filings lead to grievous mistakes that keep children in care longer."

DCS records show 1,700 children in our state have been in foster care for more than three years.

"My main concern is how long kids are sitting in foster care,” said Yerington. “I had a child who spent five years in foster care."


It’s one of several issues WRTV Investigates would like to speak with DCS Director Eric Miller about, as well as staffing.

According to this DCS report, the agency is short more than 200 caseworkers and much of the state is failing to meet its own caseload standards.

Both moms say Miller should address these concerns publicly.

“100 percent. This is a taxpayer funded agency,” said Yerington. “He is a taxpayer funded official and these are our children. He needs to at least tell us which direction the agency is going."

Miller already knows the inner workings of DCS because he served as chief of staff since 2017 until taking over as director on May 8.

WRTV: “If you could ask the director of DCS a question, what would it be?”
Gandy: “How can we make sure children are being better protected?"

Sen. JD Ford, D-Indianapolis, has the same question for Miller.

"As the director, the buck stops with him,” said Ford. “He has got to answer those tough questions."

Ford serves on the Senate Family and Children Services Committee.

"Transparency is probably the biggest first and foremost issue that I hear a lot,” said Ford. “To hear that the director is not willing to sit for an interview is pretty problematic. I call upon him to take your request and sit down and chat.”

Former DCS director Terry Stigdon spoke with the media just days after Governor Holcomb appointed her.

Before that, DCS director Mary Beth Bonaventura sat down with WRTV in 2014 after months on the job.


Nearly four years later, Bonaventura resigned, and in her letter to Governor Holcomb, she criticized then chief of staff Eric Miller.

“The current chief of staff has engineered the hiring of his choices, driven out career professionals, engaged in bullying subordinates, created a hostile work environment, exposed the agency to lawsuits, overridden my decisions, been brazenly insubordinate, and made cost cutting decisions without my knowledge,” read Bonaventura’s 2017 letter. “The current chief of staff, with the position and authority he has been given by your office, is the greatest threat to this agency and child welfare.”

Bonaventura is now a Senior Judge, which means as a retired judge she is qualified to sit anywhere in the state where needed.

WRTV emailed DCS on May 31 requesting an interview with Miller.

Two weeks later DCS responded, "Director Miller is understandably very busy in his new role, so we're going to decline an interview at this time."

WRTV Investigates pressed further to meet with Miller and six weeks later, on July 25— DCS told us, “We will decline an interview.”

"He's a public official,” said Gandy. “We want to hear from our public officials. We want to hear what ideas do they have?"

The most recent numbers available show 60 children died from abuse and neglect in Indiana in 2021.

Meanwhile, reports to the state hotline are actually down.

A recent DCS report said the agency is taking steps to boost recruitment and reduce caseloads including:

  • Salary increases based on the Indiana State Personnel Department’ comprehensive compensation study
  • New skills-based hiring approach
  • Collaboration with local colleges and universities to build a pipeline for graduates to become FCMs
  • Pilot program introducing part-time positions

We’d like to speak with Director Miller about these efforts as well.
A Hendricks County judge has ordered Director Eric Miller to appear in court on September 25.

DCS is accused of failing to turn over documents in a civil lawsuit.

A foster mother filed the lawsuit against DCS following the death of Judah Morgan, 4.

Morgan’s biological father was convicted of torturing and killing Judah.