On Wednesday, Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane called for the restoration of funds to the Department of Child Services (DCS) in the closing days of the budget process. Citing a recent DCS annual report on child fatalities showing an influx of child deaths in 2011, Sen. Lanane said the General Assembly should fully implement the recommendations of the Department of Child Services Interim Study Committee that met last summer.
The bipartisan committee endorsed a number of recommendations, including the use of a “hybrid” abuse and neglect hotline system that would allow mandatory reporters – like teachers, police officers and medical personnel – to report instances of abuse directly to local DCS offices. Sen. Lanane said this “hybrid” system of reporting, along with the funding needed to support it, needs to be restored in the closing days of the legislative session to ensure the protection of Hoosier children. He indicated this “hybrid” system would assist the agency in responding in a timely and thorough manner to cases of child abuse or neglect around the state. Lanane noted that the House-approved budget allocated $40 million to DCS, while the Senate version reduces DCS funding by $10 million to $30 million.
SEN. LANANE: “Well the concern that I raised on the floor of the Indiana Senate today, as we’re entering the last couple of days here of the budget process, is the removal of some very important funding for the Department of Child Services…”[audio http://www.in.gov/legislative/senate_democrats/files/audio/Lanane.DCSbudgetFunding.042413.mp3]
(Length – 02:18)
Over a four month period, the Department of Child Service Interim Study Committee took hours of public testimony from stakeholders including child advocates, caseworkers and concerned Hoosiers. The committee held hearings in communities across the state and released a litany of recommendations to be considered during the 2013 legislative session.
Some of the committee’s recommendations have been adopted in the form of separate legislation.
Sen. Broden on 2013 DCS reform legislation: