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Senate panel advances DCS oversight measure

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A proposed commission that grew from a study committee examining problems at the Department of Child Services cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday.

Senate Bill 125 was amended to increase the number of seats on the proposed Commission on Improving the Status of Children from nine to 17, and to further spell out its powers. Justice Loretta Rush would serve as the panel’s initial chairwoman.

“When you do juvenile law you see when the system falls apart how it affects young people,” said Rush, who served as a juvenile court judge in Tippecanoe County before her appointment to the Indiana Supreme Court last year.

The panel would have broad authority including:

  •     Studying and evaluating access, availability, duplication, funding and barriers for services for vulnerable youth; communication, cooperation and consolidation of agencies; and implementing programs or laws;
  •    Establishing a DCS oversight subcommittee that will review DCS quarterly and annual reports and make recommendations to the commission; and
  •   Promoting information sharing concerning vulnerable youth and promoting best practices.


The Judiciary Committee passed the measure 8-0 after some discussion and further alteration of the proposed makeup of the panel. Proposed members would include four lawmakers and heads of various executive, legislative and judicial offices.

“It seems to me it’s top-heavy with, for want of a better word, bureaucrats,” said Sen. Susan Glick, R-LaGrange, who prevailed in adding a provider of foster care, residential or group home services to the commission’s proposed makeup. “Somebody who deals with children on an everyday basis needs to be at that table,” she said.

Rush said the envisioned composition of the panel represents the realization that the multiple agencies providing services “don’t know what other players are doing, and we’ve got to get that fixed.

“If we don’t have our ducks in a row at the top …I think it’s a problem,” she said. Rush said gathering results-based data on evidence-based practices would be key to improving performance at DCS. “We don’t have that clearinghouse right now.”

Bill co-author Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, said the proposal would enhance positive changes already made at the agency. “It’s a new day at DCS,” he said, adding the proposed commission “gives us the ability to continue in that same vein.”

Read background on the proposal here.

The commission also moved to the full Senate on 8-0 votes these other measures:

  • SB 164, which reauthorizes prosecutors to make child in need of services filings. Prosecutors had that authority until a change in the law in 2007.
  • SB 6, a corrective bill that applies changes to child support and educational support statutes passed last year to paternity cases as well as dissolution orders.  

On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously approved Sen. Brent Steele’s legislation that allows for more direct communication between local DCS offices and professionals who work with children. SB 105 moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
 

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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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