Has the time come to change the jurisdiction statutes to allow the juvenile court to order and enforce parental participation orders for community-based services for the family while the child is placed at the Indiana Department of Correction, Division of Youth Services (DOC)? Currently, when a child is placed at DOC, the juvenile court loses jurisdiction over the case. See I.C. 31-30-2-1(a)(2). That means that the juvenile court has no authority to tell the child or the parent, guardian, or custodian what to do, hold review hearings, modify the disposition orders, etc.
The logic behind the current rule is that it allows DOC to have the freedom and responsibility to implement a treatment and discharge plan for the child and the family without interference. However, in the last several years, DOC has closed the South Bend and Northeastern juvenile facilities and moved the only female juvenile facility to Madison, Indiana along the Ohio River. For many families, the remaining juvenile facilities are just too far for visitation or meaningful participation in family therapy and other restorative services. DOC is making strides to increase participation by using programs that are like Skype, but access to and knowledge of how to use computers is still a limiting factor. In addition, DOC has few resources available for parents who may personally need substance abuse counseling, individual mental health therapy, parenting classes, homemaking classes, etc., in order to better parent the child when the child is discharged from DOC.
By modifying the current jurisdiction statute, the court could enforce a parental participation decree, pursuant to I.C. 31-37-15, for community-based services that the parent may need in order to fulfill the obligations of the parent that would be paid for by Medicaid or private insurance. A consideration when analyzing this proposed change would be whether some families are completely uninsured still. If so, should/would the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) be called upon to pay for the parental services while the child is placed at the DOC, as DCS currently pays for community-based parental services when the child remains in the community?
Anecdotally, it is said that some counties are currently just continuing to enforce the parental participation decree for community-based services, and no legal challenges have been made to the court’s jurisdiction so far. If it has been effective in reducing juvenile recidivism, the statutes in the juvenile code should be modified to allow all of the county juvenile courts to assist parents while the child is placed at DOC.
The post Should the Juvenile Court Retain Jurisdiction Over Parents During DOC Placement? first appeared on the Indiana Juvenile Justice Blog.