Indiana Lawyer’s top story of 2018 began inside an Indianapolis bar in the cool early-morning hours of Thursday, March 15. Attorney General Curtis Hill had had a few drinks. A few too many, several witnesses would later claim.
It’s not uncommon for the Indiana Department of Child Services to hear it doesn’t have enough evidence to support its child welfare cases. Children in need of services cases that enter the court often leave shredded by judges for lack of a sufficient reasoning as to why they came before the bench without enough evidence to back up the claims.
The $25 million Gov. Eric Holcomb recently pledged in additional funding for the Department of Child Services is not the first infusion of extra money given to the agency in recent years. In fact, the sum is one of the smaller supplements to the department’s annual state appropriation, which is more than $600 million.
Several times while talking about the statewide computer system that keeps track of child support money, John Owens rapped his knuckles on the nearest piece of wood. Indiana’s technology, dubbed ISETS, processes almost $1 billion in child support payments every year. However, the Department of Child Services says in a report that ISETS is “built on dying technology” from the 1980s. The concern is one day, it will crash for good.
The Indiana Senate approved its two-year, $34.6 billion state budget proposal Tuesday morning, setting up final budget negotiations between both chambers as lawmakers close out the last two weeks of this year’s General Assembly.
The Indiana Court of Appeals admitted it made an erroneous statement in reversing a termination of parental rights order and granted the Department of Child Services’ request for a rehearing. But the appellate panel Wednesday affirmed its initial opinion, concluding the error had no bearing its original ruling that a mother’s due process rights were violated.
Indiana, which places a greater percentage of its children in the foster care system than almost any other state, must take steps to close educational shortcomings for children in the system, according to a first-of-its-kind report released recently that details a wide achievement gap.
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.
Parents arguing the termination of their parental rights was not in the best interest of their minor child lost their argument when the Indiana Court of Appeals found their ongoing substance abuse issues had not improved over time.
The Indiana House on Monday passed a $34.6 billion two-year budget along party lines. The budget includes an increase of more than $550 million over two years for the Indiana Department of Child Services.