State Funding of CHINS and Juvenile Services on Track for January 1 Transfer
October 31, 2008 by Jeffrey Bercovitz
Our trial court judges will continue to see in their courtrooms many children in need of services, and too many juveniles who are in trouble, as the new year begins on January 1, 2009. Someone will still have to foot the bill for taking care of these children and juveniles, but who pays for these services will dramatically change on the first day of the new year. This article takes the reader behind the scenes in staging the production of this monumental shift of fiscal responsibility, and as with many big changes, the devil is in the details.
Howard County Circuit Court Judge Lynn Murray reported in the May/June issue of Court Times that history was made in the last session of the Indiana General Assembly. The state of Indiana will assume the cost of juvenile services. The counties have had this burden and taxpayers traditionally picked up the tab through their local property tax bills. House Enrolled Act 1001, P.L. 146, the comprehensive property tax relief plan, contains the provisions for state payment of the cost of juvenile services. The local family and children’s levy in each county will be eliminated and the State of Indiana general fund will assume the costs for juvenile programs and services.
The Indiana Judicial Center, State Court Administration, Department of Child Services, judges, probation officers, GAL/CASA, service providers and others are working hard to assure a smooth transition on January 1, 2009. Efforts are concentrated in these areas: contract negotiations, committee work on oversight and planning, standardizing the utilization of new forms, personnel training and dealing with numerous financial issues.
The Indiana Department of Child Services formed a number of collaborative committees to prepare new procedures and policies for local offices of DCS, courts, service providers, GAL/CASAs, probation, attorneys and the Indiana Association of Residential Child Care Agencies. The committees are focused on financial process, training, contracts, regional services councils, probation, forms, state agency interaction, communication, staffing and technology. The Indiana Court of Appeals formed a committee to recommend a procedure for expedited appeals, which was just recently submitted to the Indiana Supreme Court for review and approval.
The Judicial Center’s Juvenile Justice Improvement Committee, Juvenile Benchbook Committee, and the Probation Officers Advisory Board have worked on different aspects of this new legislation. Many judicial officers, probation officers, attorneys, service providers, DCS staff and others have generously given their time to thoughtfully discuss and draft the procedures, forms and policies needed under this new law.
There have been standard reports developed to address the requirements of HEA 1001. They were prepared on a collaborative basis to satisfy the mandates of Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, which will be applied to Indiana delinquency cases for the first time on a large scale basis.
The first example of a new report, a Case Plan, was prepared by the DCS and the Indiana Judicial Center and promulgated for required use beginning on July 1, 2008. It may be found at the Indiana Judicial Center’s HEA 1001 website at: courts.in.gov/center/legislation/hea1001-2008.html and at the Department of Child Services website at: www.in.gov/dcs/2608.htm
DCS has begun using new Informal Adjustment, Preliminary Inquiry, Predisposition, Modification and Permanency Plan reports for CHINS cases. The Indiana Judicial Center’s Juvenile Benchbook Committee has completely revised the Delinquency Benchbook, which includes procedures, reports and orders to be consistent with both Title IV-E rules and HEA 1001, with the support of probation officers and the Department of Child Services. The Delinquency Benchbook was distributed via compact disk to judges and will be distributed to chief probation officers with juvenile jurisdiction.
An emphasis on coordinated training will assist the transition to the new and revised juvenile laws. The Training Schedule for 2008 was/is as follows:
- GAL/CASA in April,
- Probation Officers and DCS in May,
- GAL/CASA and judicial officers in June,
- Additional education for the judicial officers occurred at the Annual Meeting of the Judicial Conference of Indiana in September,
- The Family and Juvenile and Family Law Section of the ISBA will have training in October, and
- Six (6) regional training sessions are planned for probation and judicial officers in November.
Former Marion County Juvenile Court Judge James W. Payne, now Director of the Department of Child Services, and Judge Charles F. Pratt, Allen Superior Court and Chair of the Juvenile Justice Improvement Committee, have been instrumental in the development and presentation of the new procedures and in answering questions about the new law.
DCS and the Indiana Judicial Center have focused on planning and organizing procedures for participating agencies throughout Indiana to provide services and placements for juveniles after January 1, 2009. The Indiana Judicial Center, in cooperation with the Probation Officers Association of Indiana, is collecting statistics from local probation departments on their recommendations for services and placements. The information is being submitted via tally sheets. DCS will use the information to determine the number of their service consultants needed to review the recommendations for dispositional and placement requests under the new statute.
DCS has invited agencies to submit a request for funding based on the newly developed service standards. The Probation Department, along with others, has reviewed the standards to ensure that service providers in the counties will be able to continue operating under state contract. The Judicial Center, through September, has circulated to service providers, consultants and others four “waves” of solicitations for requests for proposals. These fall broadly into these service area categories: independent living services, substance abuse, home based intensive family preservation and reunification, parent education, and others. The fourth wave, which drew on experienced probation officers for its requirements, has concentrated on probation services including:
- day treatment,
- quality assurance for children in residential placement,
- residential detoxification, and
- transition from restrictive placement back into the child’s home.
There are continuing efforts to assist in the transition mandated by HEA 1001. A chart of reasonable efforts determination has been developed; information is continually updated on the DCS and Indiana Judicial Center’s website; position opinions have circulated about particularly important, yet unclear, portions of the new statute. These will continue in order to implement this historic shift of funding for child services from the county to the state level. The level of teamwork between branches of government and impacted organizations is unprecedented. These changes will permit all counties to provide the best services possible to Indiana’s children.