As a result of the 2012 interim study committee that focused on the Indiana Department of Child Services, SEA 125 establishes groups to study Indiana children.
The Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana is to focus on “vulnerable children”, which is defined as a child who is served by the Department of Child Services, the Office of the Secretary of Family and Social Services, the Department of Correction, or a juvenile probation department. The Commission consists of eighteen members from a broad cross-section of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. The members are charged with studying services programs and services and the provision of those programs and services with a report to be submitted annually.
The Child Services Oversight Committee consists of eleven members charged with reviewing information about the Department of Child Services and the Department of Child Services Ombudsman, making recommendations to improve child protection services, and submitting an annual report to the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana.
The Local Child Fatality Review Teams are established to provide information to the Statewide Child Fatality Review Committee. The statewide committee will then submit reports annually to the Legislative Council, Governor, Department of Child Service, State Department, and the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana.
Indiana has a history of creating legislative committees, but not all committees move forward on the set goals. A recent juvenile justice example is HEA 1193 (2010) that established an Indiana Criminal Justice Institute law enforcement, school policing, and youth work group. The workgroup was to conduct its first meeting by August 1, 2010, and make a recommendation by August 1, 2011. But, the necessary appointments were never made to the work group and the group has never met. At the time the legislation was signed into law, Indiana received national recognition for being on the forefront of studying law enforcement and school resource officer issues. The authorizing statute expires on June 30, 2015.
Hopefully, the leaders in the legislature and the Governor will act swiftly to ensure that the stated members are appointed to the SEA 125 committees to address the people’s clearly-stated concern about DCS oversight following the legislative committee and commission discussions during the summer of 2012.