by: Gail Riecken. CCO Statehouse Editor
As of today SB 1 has passed both Houses of the General Assembly. The bill addresses the critical challenge of meeting the needs of our Hoosier children who are Wards of the Court. Placement in foster homes is one of the main concerns of this bill and the bill categorically puts children first. (See Section 2 of the bill: https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2019/bills/senate/1)
Whether it is the administration, the courts or criminal proceedings, “all decisions made by the department [DCS] or the court shall be made in consideration of the best interests of the child or children concerned.” (SB 1)
Speakers said over again that foster children are getting lost in the system. One legislator mentioned a young man who in his eighteen years in foster care was moved eighteen times.
Legislators heard the policy of moving around children has consequences. They heard factual information that confirms that information from Indiana public schools:
64% of Hoosier foster children graduate high school compared to 83 % of all children; and,
21% of Hoosier foster children are suspended in public schools vs. 8.9% of all children; and of the number of foster children suspended, 32% are Black.
The number of children in foster care has increased over recent years to the highest number in history, parental substance abuse – mostly opioids – the main factor in half of the families.
It will always be a moral struggle by well-meaning officials when they have to remove a child from his/her mother and father or change the placement of the child. But, given the new “child first” policy, there is hope the State will do a better job.