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Concerns about CHINS petitions raised during budget hearings

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After the Indiana Department of Child Services made its presentation to the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday, the discussion quickly turned to Child in Need of Services petitions.

Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, asked DCS Chief of Staff John Ryan if giving prosecutors the ability to file CHINS petitions is appropriate.

“It’s fine,” Ryan replied.

Senate Bill 164 would allow a prosecuting attorney to request a juvenile court to authorize the filing of a petition alleging that a child is in need of services. Prepared by the Department of Child Services Interim Study Committee, the bill has been returned to the Senate with amendments.

Ryan went on to explain that these children are not being neglected or abused, they have behavioral health problems. Prosecutors say these youngsters do not belong in the juvenile justice system, but in a care facility. He also noted that DCS is working with 25 community mental health centers around the state to provide the services needed for the children.

Ryan served as the agency’s director from September 2012 until Gov. Mike Pence appointed Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura to the post. Both Ryan and Bonaventura appeared before the Senate committee today.

Appropriations chair Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, raised concerns about giving prosecutors the ability to file CHINS petitions. Prior to DCS being established, he said, services and costs varied from county to county with some areas not having services at all.

When DCS was separated from the Family and Social Services Administration, prosecutors lost their ability to file CHINS petitions. Kenley said he is troubled that proposed legislation returning that ability gives prosecutors complete veto power over the handling of these cases.

Specifically, he said he is concerned if the DCS makes a recommendation that the prosecutor disagrees with, the prosecutor would have the sole authority to decide not to follow it and could then proceed in another way contrary to the system DCS has set up to try to handle these situations. He wants language added to the measure that would require the prosecutor to place the child back into the system of care the state has already built.

Both Ryan and Bonaventura said they would have no problem with such language.  

After the hearing, Kenley said, “We’ve set up that framework and both the prosecutor and the judge have ways that they can object to a particular treatment … , but they do not have the power to take the child out of that system which we’ve set up for those services.”


 

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  1. Welcome to Hendricks County where local and state statutes (especially Indiana Class C misdemeanors) are given a higher consideration than Federal statues and active duty military call-ups.

  2. If real money was spent on this study, what a shame. And if some air-head professor tries to use this to advance a career, pity the poor student. I am approaching a time that i (and others around me) should be vigilant. I don't think I'm anywhere near there yet, but seeing the subject I was looking forward to something I might use to look for some benchmarks. When finally finding my way to the hidden questionnaire all I could say to myself was...what a joke. Those are open and obvious signs of any impaired lawyer (or non-lawyer, for that matter), And if one needs a checklist to discern those tell-tale signs of impairment at any age, one shouldn't be practicing law. Another reason I don't regret dropping my ABA membership some number of years ago.

  3. The case should have been spiked. Give the kid a break. He can serve and maybe die for Uncle Sam and can't have a drink? Wow. And they won't even let him defend himself. What a gross lack of prosecutorial oversight and judgment. WOW

  4. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  5. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

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