Indiana is bucking the nationwide trend of fewer children being taken away from families because of abuse or neglect charges -- only five states, all with much larger child populations -- removed more children in 2009 than Indiana. That worries some people, who say the statistics are disturbing because they suggest either that the state is not doing enough to keep families together or that Indiana has an extraordinarily large number of bad parents:
DCS spokeswoman Ann Houseworth said officials do not think they are needlessly removing children but acknowledged the trend in Indiana is troubling in light of what is happening across the country.
"Obviously, it's something we are concerned with," Houseworth said. "At this point in time, we are looking at why our removal numbers are as high as they are."
Too often we get obsessed by rankings in this or that category and are determined to "fix" things if the state ranks too high or too low compared with other states. But it really doesn't matter where we rank if we're doing the right thing. In this case, the right thing would mean that the kids who should be removed -- but only those kids -- are removed. Houseworth's attitude about the numbers is the right one, I think. They don't prove anything, but they suggest something might be out of whack here, so a further examination is appropriate.