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House Committee approves CHINS bill returning power to prosecuting attorneys

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A bill giving prosecuting attorneys the ability to file a Child in Need of Services petition continues to garner strong support in the Indiana General Assembly.

The House of Representatives Committee on Family, Children and Human Affairs unanimously passed Senate Bill 164 at its meeting Wednesday. Authored by Sens. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, and John Broden, D-South Bend, the bill allows prosecuting attorneys to request authorization to file a CHINS petition.

Previously, the Senate approved the measure by a 49 to 0 vote.

Holdman served as co-chair of the Department of Child Services Interim Study Committee which made numerous proposals for legislation addressing growing concerns over the handling of child abuse cases by DCS.

Testifying before the House committee, Holdman said the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council had asked that prosecutors once again be given the power to file CHINS petitions. Prosecuting attorneys had this ability previously, but when DCS was spun off from the Family and Social Services Administration, the state code was changed.

“We asked around and no one really knows why that occurred,” Holdman said.

Prosecuting attorneys told the interim study committee that the ability to file these petitions gives them another tool to use with families and helps keep the pressure on local DCS attorneys where the prosecutor believes a CHINS proceeding would be more appropriate.

Suzanne O’Malley, testifying on behalf of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, echoed Holdman.  

“We do support the bill,” she said. “It gives us an option in the case where we’ve got a child that may be doing some criminal things that we would consider filing charges on but would prefer not to and allow them to go through the CHINS system instead.”

 An amendment has been added to the bill giving the prosecuting attorney an option once the petition has been filed. The prosecuting attorney can follow the case all the way through until it is disposed of by the court, or the attorney can agree to return the matter to the DCS lawyer and let the department follow the case.

“In most cases, I’ll just tell you having been a former prosecutor, you would want to pass that back to the DCS attorney to follow that because they’re going to be involved with the family and those issues, not on a criminal case or probation type of case,” Holdman told the House committee.

After the hearing, Holdman described SB 164 as one of the DCS bills that has been introduced to provide better protection for the children and give families and providers more voice.

“With John Ryan coming on the scene, and I can only hope with our new director coming on in a few weeks, it’s just a new day for DCS,” Holdman said. “We have seen nothing but cooperation from John Ryan. It’s been a breath of fresh air.”  

Ryan was appointed DCS director when former director James Payne stepped down in September 2012. In January, Gov. Mike Pence named Lake County Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura to lead the agency.

 

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  1. Im very happy for you, getting ready to go down that dirt road myself, and im praying for the same outcome, because it IS sometimes in the childs best interest to have visitation with grandparents. Thanks for sharing, needed to hear some positive posts for once.

  2. Been there 4 months with 1 paycheck what can i do

  3. our hoa has not communicated any thing that takes place in their "executive meetings" not executive session. They make decisions in these meetings, do not have an agenda, do not notify association memebers and do not keep general meetings minutes. They do not communicate info of any kind to the member, except annual meeting, nobody attends or votes because they think the board is self serving. They keep a deposit fee from club house rental for inspection after someone uses it, there is no inspection I know becausee I rented it, they did not disclose to members that board memebers would be keeping this money, I know it is only 10 dollars but still it is not their money, they hire from within the board for paid positions, no advertising and no request for bids from anyone else, I atteended last annual meeting, went into executive session to elect officers in that session the president brought up the motion to give the secretary a raise of course they all agreed they hired her in, then the minutes stated that a diffeerent board member motioned to give this raise. This board is very clickish and has done things anyway they pleased for over 5 years, what recourse to members have to make changes in the boards conduct

  4. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  5. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

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