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Holcomb names new DCS Director, requests department assessment

Terry Stigdon
Terry Stigdon, RN, MSN

INDIANAPOLIS – Governor Eric J. Holcomb today announced that Terry J. Stigdon, RN, MSN will be Indiana’s next director at the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) and that he has requested a complete assessment of the department. Stigdon is currently the clinical director of operations at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis—overseeing strategy, finance, personnel, research and programs for several of the hospital’s key divisions, including emergency, trauma and nursing.

“Terry has in-depth, firsthand experience in the issues faced by the children and families served by Indiana’s Department of Child Services,” Gov. Holcomb said. “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. Working in partnership with Dr. Walthall at the Family and Social Services Administration and Dr. Box at the Department of Health, Terry will help our state improve DCS service to children in need.”

Stigdon has worked at the Riley Hospital for Children since 1998, where she began as a pediatric intensive care staff nurse before taking on progressively greater managerial responsibilities over the next two decades. She has managed hundreds of health care employees in the hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Program, Pediatric Emergency Trauma Center, Pediatric Center of Hope for sexually assaulted patients, Forensic Nursing, Radiology Nursing, and Inpatient Child/Adolescent Behavioral Health Unit.

“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,” Terry Stigdon said. “I look forward to working hand-in-hand with other agency leaders and the caring team of public servants at DCS to continue and improve our positive impact for kids and communities.”

Stigdon has earned associate and bachelor’s degrees in nursing as well as a master’s degree in nursing leadership and management. Throughout her career, Stigdon has educated and mentored other health care professionals. She is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Organization of Nurse executives, the Emergency Nurses Association and the Indiana Emergency Medical Services for Children Advisory Board.

“Terry brings years of experience in building strong teams that result in positive outcomes for vulnerable children,” Indiana Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Dr. Jennifer Walthall said. “Her expertise in developing specialty pediatric sexual assault programs and networks and in overseeing trauma, emergency medicine and behavioral health for Riley Hospital makes her ideally situated to take on the challenges of this position. She will make an incredible impact for Hoosier families.”

Stigdon’s first day with DCS will be January 22. Sam Criss, current DCS deputy director, will serve as interim director for the agency.

“This is an opportunity for the Department of Health, FSSA and Child Services to align our work to reduce the opioid epidemic and improve infant mortality and health outcomes for children and adults—with one collaborative team,” Indiana Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said.

The governor also announced that last week he initiated a partnership with the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group to conduct a complete assessment of DCS to begin January 3. The Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group is a nationally recognized non-profit organization that focuses on improving child and family outcomes. The group has conducted a number of similar projects in 20 other states, a number of which were supported by the Casey Family Programs foundation.

Among the many issues the group will assess, the governor has asked the foundation to consider the following:

  • 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.

“I’m encouraged and optimistic about what Indiana can accomplish to improve DCS and, in turn, the lives of Hoosier kids and families,” Gov. Holcomb said. “With insights and guidance from the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group and strong leadership in place in our state agencies, Indiana is positioned for even better outcomes for children in the future.”

SOURCE: News release from the Office of Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb