The Senate Family & Children Services Committee heard SB 1 authored by Sen. Houchin on the Department of Child Services (DCS). The bill would make several changes:
- All decisions made by DCS or the courts shall be made in consideration of the best interests of the child or children concerned.
- DCS would be required to make diligent efforts to identify all adult relatives and siblings who may be considered as out of home placements from the inception of the case for at least twelve (12) months.
- DCS and OJA shall collaborate, with input from foster parents and other stakeholders, on the creation of a foster parent reporting form that can be used to provide written testimony to the court. Use of this form would be optional.
- In foster parent intervention motions, courts shall consider at least whether the foster parent has filed a petition to adopt, whether the child has been placed with foster parent for at least six (6) months, and whether termination of parental rights has been filed.
- The department shall include any information and recommendations obtained from foster parents as part of the progress
- Foster parents may file a notice to the court indicating that the child has been placed out of home for more than 15 of the previous 22 months, and the court shall then order DCS to file termination of parental rights.
Sen. Houchin offered an amendment which added a requirement that DCS operate a 24/7 child placement hotline to assist family case managers, a waiver of child placement limits for foster families for children returning to foster care, and a report to the General Assembly from DCS and the Office of Judicial Administration (OJA) on efforts to provide training and technical assistance to juvenile judges on foster parents’ right to be heard. Representatives of Indiana Foster and Adoptive Parents, DCS, and Indiana Association of Resources and Child Advocacy testified in support of the bill. Judges Darrin Dolehanty and Faith Graham also testified regarding the bill’s requirements. The amended bill passed 8-0.
Read the bill at: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2019/bills/senate/1