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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. Hello currently just withdrew from laporte county drug court and now I have lost the woman I love which also was in drugcourt and was put in jail without a,lawyer presentfor her own safety according to the judge and they told her she could have a hearing in two weeks and now going on 30days and still in jail no court date and her public defender talks like he,s bout to just sell her up the river.

  2. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  3. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  4. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  5. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

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