In response to a lawsuit seeking to require the state appoint attorneys to represent children in termination of parental rights or children in need of services proceedings, Indiana is arguing that adding more lawyers would only flatter the legal professionals and not mollify tragic circumstances.
While the effort to give foster parents standing in cases involving abused and neglected children has stalled in the Statehouse, numerous child welfare and Department of Child Services reforms appear poised to pass the Indiana General Assembly.
A nonprofit that gave Indiana an F grade in how the state provides for minors in child in need of services and termination of parental rights hearings asserts in a new lawsuit that children a have right to counsel so their voices be heard in court.
A national child advocacy organization filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal court in Indianapolis asserting that Indiana is violating the rights of abused and neglected children by failing to provide them legal counsel in children in need of services and termination of parental rights hearings.
Legislators in 2018 introduced a slew of bills trying to bring more collaboration and modest adjustments to the Department of Child Services. Lawmakers this year have introduced at least 25 bills impacting CHINS, foster parents and DCS caseloads, among other things.
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that court-appointed special advocates have the statutory authority to prosecute a petition to terminate parental rights, even when the Department of Child Services opposes the termination.
A bill that would have given immunity to guardians ad litem and court appointed child advocates stalled in the Indiana House, but other measures covering foster parents and placing new requirements on the Indiana Department of Child Services all passed through the Statehouse with little or no opposition.
With the help of a nearly $1 million grant, Child Advocates, Inc., is partnering with Indianapolis Legal Aid Society in a pilot project designed to sweep youths from the child in need of services process and get them into stable homes.
Court technology and several other court programs got a boost in the latest state biennial budget, including an additional $5.9 million to fund, in part, key initiatives for Hoosiers, such as court appointed special advocate programs.