Legislation to help children in need signed into law

Posted by: Jessica Baker  | Friday, May 1, 2015

STATEHOUSE – State Representative Wendy McNamara (R-Mount Vernon) authored House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1196 to better assist juveniles in need of services who fall under criminal jurisdiction. HEA 1196 was signed into law and goes into effect July 1, 2015.

“After 20 years working with children, I have seen firsthand how their lives are layered with different experiences that effect how they perform in school,” said Rep. McNamara. “Instead of focusing on one area, criminal acts, this law takes all factors into consideration when a child comes into the judicial system.”

HEA 1196 requires that if an intake officer believes that a child is a child in need of services (CHINS) when they are being processed as a delinquent, then the intake officer must complete the preliminary inquiry and the dual status screening tool to ensure they are handled by the appropriate department. The preliminary inquiry should include information on the child’s background, current criminal status and school performance. The intake officer then will recommended whether to file a petition, file a petition and recommend that the child be referred for an assessment by a dual status assessment team, informally adjust the case, informally adjust the case and recommend that the child be referred for an assessment by the dual status assessment team, refer the child to another agency or dismiss the case.

After the child is determined to be a CHINS, they will then be referred to the dual status assessment team and assigned to the appropriate department, the Department of Child Services (DCS) or the probation department of the court. This will help provide clarity between the departments, because the dual determination will have a single agency take charge of the child’s supervision instead of both departments working with one child.

“We created essential steps with HEA 1196 so that CHINS are not just going through the judicial process and not receiving the care and attention they need,” said Rep. McNamara. “Each child we can send through this process, and get them the services they need, will potentially decrease the recidivism in juvenile delinquent cases.”

Visit iga.in.gov to learn more about this law.

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Rep. McNamara (R-Mount Vernon) represents portions of Posey and Vanderburgh counties. She serves as the Vice Chair of Courts and Criminal Code Committee and is a member of Government and Regulatory Reform Committee, Judiciary Committee and the Select Committee on Government Reduction Committee.