Holcomb Picks New Child Services Director, Calls For Assessment Of Agency

first_imgFacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailShare Staff ReportTheStatehouseFile.comINDIANAPOLIS—Gov. Eric Holcomb has named a veteran health professional to lead Indiana’s Department of Child Services and is calling for a complete assessment of the agency.Holcomb named Terry J. Stigdon, who has worked at Riley Hospital for Children for nearly 20 years, as the next director of DCS, effective Jan. 22. Stigdon replaces Mary Beth Bonaventure, who quit after saying that she was no longer able to protect the children in the care of the agency because of budget cuts.“I choose to resign, rather than be complicit in decreasing the safety, permanency and well-being of children who have nowhere else to turn,” Bonaventure said in a letter to the governor.Former Gov. Mike Pence appointed Bonaventure, who had 31 years of experience in the Lake County juvenile system, to lead the agency in 2013.Stigdon comes to the role with extensive experience at Riley Hospital where she is currently the clinical director of operations, overseeing strategy, finance, personnel, research and programs for several of the hospital’s key divisions.Terry J. Stigdon has been named to lead Indiana’s Department of Child Services. Photo provided by governor’s office.“Terry has in-depth, firsthand experience in the issues faced by the children and families served by Indiana’s Department of Child Services,” Holcomb said in a statement. “She has dedicated her life to saving and improving the lives of young Hoosiers, and she will bring a passion for this critically important work.”Stigdon has worked at Riley since 1998, where she began as a pediatric intensive care staff nurse before taking on progressively greater managerial responsibilities over the next two decades.“I am honored by this incredible opportunity to put my experiences and passions to work as never before to improve the lives of children and families around the state,” Stigdon said in a statement.Stigdon has earned associate and bachelor’s degrees in nursing as well as a master’s degree in nursing leadership and management.Sam Criss, current DCS deputy director, will serve as interim director for the agency.Holcomb has also announced that he has asked a national nonprofit organization that specializes in improving child and family outcomes to conduct an assessment of DCS. That assessment, conducted by the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group, will begin its work on Jan. 3.The group has conducted similar projects in 20 other states. In Indiana, it has been asked to assess:Are systems in place to assure that children and families are healthy and safe?Is funding being utilized in the most appropriate ways to best serve children and taxpayers?Are caseloads appropriate for staffing levels? What staffing adjustments should be made?Are DCS program outcomes appropriate for services provided to Indiana children and families?How do Indiana’s case load numbers, costs and program outcomes compare to other states and the nation?The DCS assessment is expected to be complete and delivered to the governor and the new director in spring of 2018. It will be used to inform future operations of DCS to ensure state resources are deployed most effectively so that all Hoosier children in need of services are kept safe and healthy.Indiana House Democratic Leader Terry Goodin of Austin issued a statement saying he had asked for a complete assessment of DCS and believes the legislature should be involved in the process.“If the governor doesn’t want us to take part in his review, then the Legislature must study the situation on its own,” Goodin said in a statement. “Committees in both chambers should conduct hearings on this matter, and figure out if there is a need for legislative remedies.”FOOTNOTE:TheStatehouseFile.com is a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. December 29, 2017last_img read more

Thru-Hiking the Cumberland Trail

first_img“Hmm, I haven’t seen a blaze in a while,” I thought to myself as I wrestled with a briar that had wrapped itself around me like a hungry octopus. This turned out to be a recurring theme for most of this sufferfest.Ethan Alexander, trail name Garbelly, and I had the idea to walk the length of the Cumberland Trail in one go. It all seemed simple enough. We’ve hiked over 7,000 miles between the two of us and were no strangers to getting lost, stuck in thunderstorms, thorns, facing shotgun-wielding locals, injuries, body funk, and insatiable appetites.The problem is, the Cumberland Trail really isn’t a single trail at all. Rather, it’s a series of segments that are being worked on diligently by some amazing people in hopes of connecting them to one another. All together, there’s about 200 miles of trail built between Chattanooga and Cumberland Gap at the Tennessee-Kentucky-Virginia borders. Around 125 miles of those trails see enough traffic to justify maintenance, however. But the rest involves a lot of bushwhacking.Two hours into our first day, it started to rain. It was the kind of rain that turns a trail into a creek. The kind of rain where you have to accept that you’re going to be wet. Everywhere. Several day hikers ran past us as we smiled and walked farther into the deluge, because that’s what thru hikers do. We aimed for the puddles.Our second day was the real doozy of the trip. We soon came to realize that if an atlas, topo, and online map say a trail or road is going to be there, it still might not actually be there. While following an old logging road to get to the next trailhead, our path unexpectedly ended.“Map check?” I ask.“Sure.” Garbelly sighs.After triple checking we were in the right spot, we figured the road must have existed at one point and was now just too overgrown to continue north on. So we found the next best thing; a deer path. It was going north (kinda), gave us something to follow, and the map said there was a creek down in the valley that we could then follow to an actual road. From there, we could either hitch or road walk to get to our second section and continue the hike.After 25 miles of jungle-like bushwhacking, we eventually found ourselves stumbling out of someone’s backyard onto a paved road for the first time since what felt like years. We were cut up, soaked in sweat, covered in dirt, and mosquitos had feasted on any exposed skin.“What’s wrong with us?” Garbelly asked about a week into the hike.  We were playing a game of kick the pinecone while we meandered down a sleepy gravel road. “I mean it. Why do we enjoy suffering like this so much? Other people do things that they can just relax at.”He made a good point. Why were we unnecessarily putting all this hardship into our lives when we were supposed to be enjoying ourselves? Were we enjoying ourselves? We weren’t angry about our misery. But we weren’t exactly comfortable.If you can triumph over the exhaustion, heat, stinging nettles, and everything else kind of terrible, then you get to revel in the feeling of knowing that you accepted the challenge of throwing yourself into a situation that was completely uncontrollable, and you came out fine. And you did it while carrying everything you needed to keep being fine on your back. It’s an extremely empowering feeling, one that both Garbelly and I have become addicted to. So we kept walking, one foot in front of the other, all the way to Cumberland Gap.Our Three Favorite Spots Along The Cumberland TrailThe Obed Wild and Scenic RiverThe rock formations and foliage are awe inspiring on this section. There’s roller coaster like trail that’s top notch quality. Everything was great. Everything except jumping into a lukewarm river… Like kind of hot river… Seriously, why is that river not cold?Deep CreekThis creek has amazing boulders and a beautiful bridge. The place is so perfect for a lunch break with all the table top boulders filling in the gorge.Laurel Snow Pocket WildernessSpooky tunnels, stories of ghosts and mountain lions, a beautiful river cutting through, rickety bridges, and great campsites you can have to yourself? Yes, please.LEARN MORE Chris Pickering and Ethan Alexander have started a GoFundMe to raise awareness and funds to donate to the Cumberland Trail Conference. 100% of the funds will go to the trail crews that go out and sweat and dig in dirt for five days a week so we can walk these beautiful paths: GoFundMe.com/ConnectingTheCTlast_img read more