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Bill seeks to repeal placements statute

January 20, 2010

Lawmakers are considering legislation that would repeal a last-minute 2009 special session provision that gave the Indiana Department of Child Services key control in deciding whether juveniles should be placed outside the state.

In October, the interim legislative Commission on Courts expressed frustration that this provision was inserted into a massive budget bill, and members said many lawmakers likely didn't know about or fully understand the measure. Committee members voted to recommend that the Indiana General Assembly repeal that provision.

Co-authored by Rep. Winfield Moses, D-Fort Wayne, and Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, House Bill 1167 would revise Indiana Code 31-40-1-2(f), removing language that states the DCS is only responsible for paying any costs or expenses for housing or services to a child in a home or facility outside Indiana if the director or director's designee recommends or approves the placement. The state reports that the DCS spent approximately $4.2 million during calendar year 2009 for out-of-state placements, or about $52,000 for each of the 80 children placed in six states last year. A fiscal impact statement dated Dec. 27 says that since the provision took effect July 1, 2009, only two requests have been made for out-of-state placements. Both requests were approved.

If passed, this new law would begin July 1, 2010, one year after the special session change took effect.

Discussion was initially expected Jan. 12 at the House Judiciary meeting, but lawmakers postponed discussion after learning that St. Joseph Superior Judge Peter Nemeth couldn't attend to testify.
 

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