Filing and Counting Petitions Regarding Collaborative Care Agreements for Older Youth
September 17, 2012 by Editor
The 2012 Indiana General Assembly passed SEA 286, which creates a program (funded by Title IV-E of the Social Security Act) that can provide services to older youth who are ready to age out, or who have previously aged out, of the juvenile justice system as children in need of services (CHINS). The law defines an older youth as an individual who is at least eighteen (18) years of age but less than twenty (20). The law provides that courts may approve collaborative care agreements and retain jurisdiction over older youth who have entered into a voluntary collaborative care agreement with the Department of Child Services (DCS).
In order for the new collaborative care program to be available to an older youth, the youth must be a CHINS and be residing in:
- a licensed foster family home
- a host home
- a child caring institution
- a licensed group home, or
- a supervised independent living arrangement approved by DCS
- the older youth who has previously aged out of the foster care system but had received foster care under a court order during the month before becoming eighteen (18).
These cases will be brought by DCS attorneys filing a Joint Petition (Petition) to allow the older youth to enter a collaborative care program or to approve an agreement. If the child has already been discharged as a CHINS under IC 31-34-2-1 (and the CHINS case is closed) at the time the Petition is tendered for filing, the Clerk should file the Petition as a new Juvenile Miscellaneous (JM) case under the name of the older youth (who was the prior CHINS). The new case will be confidential.
If the child is still a CHINS (and the CHINS case is still pending), the sequence of when the child is discharged as a CHINS and when the Petition is filed become important. This is because federal eligibility regulations require a “new episode” which would allow a review of the child’s current financial circumstances. However, the judge with jurisdiction over the CHINS case should not discharge the child until he/she is assured that the proposed collaborative care is appropriate.
Thus, if the child has not been discharged as CHINS at the time the Petition is tendered, the judge would want to make sure that he/she is satisfied with the proposed collaborative care. The DCS attorney will have to provide a copy of the Collaborative Care Agreement to the judge before the Petition can be filed with the clerk. The attorney can do that in different ways, but most likely she will request a final hearing or submit a final progress report in the underlying CHINS case with a copy of the Petition. If the judge is satisfied with the proposed collaborative care program and would approve it, the judge will enter an Order Discharging the Child in the underlying CHINS case. The important thing is that the clerk should not file the Petition until the Order Discharging is entered on the CCS in the CHINS case.1
The decision to file the Petitions regarding collaborative care as JM cases instead of ordinary civil miscellaneous (MI) cases was based on the need to maintain the confidentiality of collaborative care cases. By designating them as juvenile proceedings, they would automatically fall under Administrative Rule 9(G) and be confidential. Under Administrative Rule 8, the MI designation is assigned to civil miscellaneous cases. If the petitions are filed as MI cases, the entire case would be accessible to the public except for specific records listed in Admin.R. 9(G), such as medical reports, grades, etc. In order for a court to close non-confidential records in an MI cases, it would have to seal records under IC 5-14-3-5.5, which requires notice and hearing, or do so under Administrative Rule 9(H), which also requires notice, hearing and specific findings. Presently, the civil miscellaneous case category carries a higher weight (more minutes) than the juvenile miscellaneous case type under the weighted caseload measures system. However, we anticipate the continuous study and revalidation by the Judicial Administration Committee will eventually reflect any additional time that the collaborative care agreements may add to the Juvenile Miscellaneous case type.
The JM Collaborative Care Agreement case will remain open until the court enters an order closing the Collaborative Care and terminating jurisdiction over the youth. The disposition at that time could be a “bench trial” if the matter is resolved by a hearing before the Court. Or it could be a “bench disposition” if the Court is simply approving a termination of the Collaborative Care Agreement.
This new law on Collaborative Care can be found at Indiana Code 31-28-5.8.
1 The Discharge order and the statistical disposition of the CHINS case should not be confused. The Discharge order may, and in most instances will, occur after a CHINS case has been counted as statistically closed by being disposed of by “bench trial” or “bench disposition,” (depending on how the CHINS dispositional hearing decision was made) for purposes of the Quarterly Case Status Reports.