Mahan: Better outcomes for our most vulnerable

Posted by: Lydia Kirschner  | Monday, February 11, 2019 2:12 pm

House lawmakers are working to improve the outcomes of children in the welfare system. A six-month assessment of the Department of Child Services found that Indiana has a very high rate of children in out-of-home care, with more than half of the removals related to parental substance abuse. Proposed legislation I support would implement recommendations based off this independent evaluation of DCS by the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group, and findings from the House Interim Study Committee on Courts and the Judiciary.

Under this bill, treatment options would be offered to families struggling with substance abuse. To curb unnecessary child removals, this legislation would more clearly define when a child is in need of services. To help ensure the best future for those children in need, we aim to keep families together whenever possible.

As determined by the assessment, nearly 45 percent of family case managers have caseloads above the state standard. Reconfiguring the workload structure is essential so children in need can receive the adequate care and attention they deserve, and workers can handle their important duties. DCS reports show that nearly 1,800 case managers resigned since 2016. This legislation would require smaller caseloads to help case workers manage their workload more efficiently and effectively. The proposed bill would also extend the time-frame for assessments to be completed by caseworkers from 30 days to 45 to provide adequate time for employees to do their work.

Under this proposed legislation, youths in the foster care system would receive collaborative care services through 21 years of age. These services assist with housing, employment and education. Permanency is crucial when creating a stable living environment. By offering collaborative care services to those in their early 20’s, they will have greater success in adulthood.

While Indiana’s child welfare system has strengths, there are challenges that must be addressed so that those in need have better outcomes. With DCS implementing internal changes, increased funding through the state budget and these new policies in House Bill 1006, our most vulnerable will receive improved care. To learn more about House Bill 1006, visit iga.in.gov. Your opinions matter, and as proposals for new laws progress through the process, let’s stay connected. For questions or input, please call 317-234-9499 or email H31@iga.in.gov.

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State Rep. Kevin Mahan (R-Hartford City) represents House District 31,

which includes all of Blackford County and portions of Delaware,

Grant and Wells counties.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.