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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. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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