A slew of bills aimed at helping youngsters designated as children in need of services and another targeting overdue child support payments cleared legislative committees Wednesday with no opposing votes.
Senate bills 128, 135, 381 and 428 were heard and approved by the House Committee on Family, Children and Human Affairs on a 13-to-0 vote. Likewise, House Bill 1406 was approved by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary with an 8-to-0 vote. Republicans are the primary authors of these bills.
The five pieces of legislation are among the nine measures related CHINS and the Indiana Department of Child Services that have been moving through the Indiana General Assembly this session. Senate and House Republican leadership resisted calls for an investigation into DCS after the sudden resignation of executive director Mary Beth Bonaventura in December, but legislators have moved forward on their own, saying the bills were crafted in response to concerns raised by their constituents.
Senate bills 135 and 428 would require DCS to coordinate more with schools on CHINS cases. An analysis by the Legislative Services Agency found that these two bills would increase the workload of DCS.
Under SB 381, courts would have more ability to declare a child as needing services and, as a result, would likely increase the number of CHINS cases in the state as well as the workload and expenditures at DCS. This bill would allow for a CHINS determination for child who is the victim of certain offenses or lives in the same household as an adult who has committed an offense against another child also living the house.
Senate Bill 128 mandates that before changing the out-of-home placement of a child, DCS must file a motion requesting a change and notify the people affected. LSA believes this bill will increase the workload only if someone files an objection to the motion.
House Bill 1406 addresses the collection of past due annual support fees by the Child Support Bureau. The LSA found that this measure could possibly increase the costs for the bureau and the workload for licensing agencies that will have to decide whether to impose sanctions and penalties against a license holder who is delinquent in child support payments.
Also, attached to HB 1406 is an amendment, offered by Democratic Rep. Ed DeLaney, calling for a study of the Indiana Supports Enforcement Tracking System, the aging statewide computer program used to track child support payments. Some who work with the antiquated system fear it’s on the verge of collapse. The LSA noted such a study would require additional expenditures if a new study committee is formed or if an existing interim committee has to hold extra hearings to consider the subject matter.