Substance abuse is affecting Hoosier families, communities and lives statewide, and the stories are gut-wrenching. The opioid epidemic in our state is significantly impacting those who are most vulnerable, and we must find a way to support the children suffering by no fault of their own.
With nearly 20,000 children in out-of-home care in Indiana and more than half of them having a parent with a substance abuse issue, the state is focused on helping. Most of these children are under the age of five, many of them only leaving home with what they have on or what they can fit in a backpack. Indiana House Republicans are making it a priority to safeguard these children from the effects of the opioid epidemic in order to better ensure the wellbeing of children in the foster care system.
In recent years, Department of Children Services funding has increased to nearly $600 million and the number of case workers has grown by 74 percent. Despite this funding, more can be done on the frontlines to help these children in need.
Not only are we dedicating funds and resources to the foster care system, we are looking at legislation to better track foster care children throughout their time in school to better ensure their needs are being met. There is currently no requirement to track outcomes, and considering only 3 percent of foster students graduate from college, House Bill 1314 is a critical step in helping students move further in their educational journey.
House legislators are also partnering with the Indiana Association of Resources and Child Advocacy to help children in Indiana’s foster care system. Recently, House Republicans teamed up with IARCA to host “Bags of Hope,” a bipartisan event where legislators filled diaper bags with the supplies Indiana’s foster families need most.
Events like Bags of Hope and legislation like House Bill 1314 are important to our Hoosier children in order to spread awareness and in the effort to continue making progress. Encouraging to adopt or foster and provide resources to those in the foster system can have a major impact for Hoosier children in need.
State Rep. Stephen Bartels (R-Eckerty) represents House District 74,
which includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.
A high resolution photo of Bartels can be downloaded by clicking here.