Children’s commission bill advances

A bill that would allow the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana to hire an executive director, costing an estimated $150,000 annually, will be presented to the Senate Committee on Family and Children Services Monday.  

House Bill 1080, authored by commission member Rep. David Frizzell, R-Indianapolis, gives the commission the ability to appoint and assign duties to an executive director. The salary and benefits for the new position, which would come from the Office of Judicial Administration’s budget, has been calculated to range between $145,000 and $152,000 each year.

To qualify to serve as executive director, the person must have a college degree and whatever other qualifications the commission considers necessary, according to the legislation.

The measure sailed through the Indiana House of Representatives on a 93-0 vote in late January and has picked up bipartisan support, including from the Family and Children Services Committee chair Sen. Ron Grooms, R-Jeffersonville, and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson.

HB 1080 will be heard at 10 a.m. Monday in the Senate Chamber.

Established in 2013, the commission has 18 members including Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush and Indiana Department of Child Services director Mary Beth Bonaventura. Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, is the chair of the commission for 2017.

The commission released in December its strategic plan for 2017-2019. The four-page report, prepared by Clarus Consulting Group in Birmingham, Alabama, stated the goal for the next three years is to establish four task forces in the areas of child safety and services, education outcomes, juvenile justice and cross-system youth, and mental health and substance abuse.

The commission will hold its second of four scheduled meetings this year at 10 a.m. May 10 in the Indiana Government Center South.

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