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Indiana DCS fires supervisor after learning of prior substantiation for child abuse and neglect

Anitra Montgomery terminated in May 2022
The DCS office in Delaware County where Anitra Montgomery worked as a supervisor.
Posted at 7:02 AM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-14 18:14:06-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Department of Child Services is facing tough questions about how a DCS employee was hired and promoted to supervisor, this despite records showing her own history of child abuse and neglect.

Records show DCS hired Anitra Montgomery in 2006 as a Family Case Manager.

The Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline receives more than 230,000 reports a year—some are screened out, but others are assigned to a family case manager.

It’s their job to investigate whether the allegations are true or not true, and in some cases, remove the children and find them another place to live.

Montgomery was later promoted to a DCS supervisor in Delaware County, meaning she trained and oversaw other family case managers as they investigated thousands of allegations of child abuse and neglect.

Montgomery worked for DCS for 16 years until May 9 when the state fired her.

TIMELINE

  • 2001: Substantiated report against Montgomery for child abuse and neglect
  • October 2, 2006: DCS hired Montgomery as a Family Case Manager
  • May 9, 2022: DCS fired Montgomery as Family Case Manager Supervisor

“She was dismissed due to a substantiated report of child abuse and neglect from 2001 that violated the DCS Code of Conduct and the Indiana State Personnel Department Discipline Policy,” said Kirollos Barsoum, a spokesperson for the Indiana State Personnel Department, in an email to WRTV.

WRTV Investigates shared our findings with Kristi Cundiff, CEO and founder of the Indiana Foster and Adoptive Parents Resources and Advocacy Group.

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“The word concern is what comes to mind,” Cundiff said. “Substantiation means DCS found enough probable cause and enough evidence to substantiate or say yes this individual committed this allegation."

Cundiff works with DCS to help find homes for children.

"It's kind of like a double standard, because we have families that lose their children because of substantiated abuse,” Cundiff said. “That's why the foster care system is growing, we have so many children in care because families can't care for them."

The DCS website says before you can be hired as a family manager, the state will conduct a background check which will include:

  • Limited Criminal History – State Police
  • Sex Offender Registry
  • Driver’s License - Bureau of Motor Vehicles
  • Fingerprinting – National Criminal History (FBI)
  • Pre-Employment Drug Screening
  • Past Employment reference check
  • Educational verification – transcripts required
  • Child Protective Services (CPS) check

A child protective services check should reveal whether an applicant has a substantiated case for child abuse or neglect.
“It's not ethical to have somebody working for your agency when they can't pass a background check with your agency,” Cundiff said.

Some employers that work with kids, like schools, run CPS checks because they can reveal substantiated abuse and neglect cases that may not show up in a criminal history check.

“I have to get a CPS background check done every year on myself. I'm sure if I came back with a substantiation against me, I would not be able to work with children,” Cundiff said.

WRTV Investigates sent a list of questions to DCS and the Indiana State Personnel Department including how Montgomery was hired in the first place.

DCS deferred all questions to the Indiana State Personnel Department, which would only say via email, “At the time of Anitra Montgomery's hire in 2006, a criminal background check was conducted."

WRTV could not find any criminal records associated with a 2001 child abuse case for Anitra Montgomery.

It’s not clear if the state ran a Child Protective Services (CPS) check on Montgomery when she was hired.

Questions WRTV Investigates asked the state:

  • How did this happen?
  • How did the state learn of this?
  • 3-How many cases has Montgomery reviewed/handled for DCS, and does the state plan to review any of her cases that she was involved with?
  • 4- A criminal history check was done in 2006. Did that include a CPS/child welfare check that would have revealed her prior substantiation?
  • The state does a child welfare check on DCS employees when they're hired. But how often are they checked afterward, and was Montgomery screened after she was hired?

"I think someone needs to be looking at this internally and saying what happened?” Cundiff asked. “Where did we drop the ball?"

DCS child abuse and neglect cases are not public record, so WRTV Investigates can’t see details on cases, even if the allegations are substantiated.

WRTV Investigates called, texted and emailed Montgomery the week of May 30-June 3 seeking her response to her firing from DCS, as well as more information about how she was hired.

We have not yet received a statement from Montgomery.

Her attorney, Barry Hall of Muncie, contacted WRTV Investigates on June 14 and said Montgomery's child protective services records were expunged and sealed last week.

WRTV Investigates is working to confirm that information.

Delaware County handles approximately 200 CHINS (Child in Need of Services) cases a month out of 13,439 CHINS cases statewide.

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