Mahan: Protecting Hoosier Children

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, May 13, 2016 8:15 am

Protecting Hoosier children

As a father, there is nothing I love more than my three sons. Throughout my time in the state legislature, I have heard tragic stories from parents who have experienced the worst tragedy: losing a child. In order to better protect our most vulnerable Hoosiers, lawmakers passed several measures to improve the safety of children. They have now been enacted into law.

According to the Department of Child Services (DCS), over 202,000 child abuse or neglect cases were reported in Indiana in 2015. I supported legislation that creates a registry containing information on individuals previously convicted of child abuse or neglect. 

Better known as “Kirk’s Law,” this proposal was inspired by Kirk Coleman, a 19-month-old child from Elkhart who died while under the care of a babysitter who pled guilty to child neglect eight years prior. The babysitter’s criminal record was unknown to Kirk’s parents. With this newly created registry, it is my hope that we can prevent future tragedies by giving parents a new avenue to ensure the people caring for their children are trustworthy.

The Department of Child Services uses the Child in Need of Services (CHINS) designation to better identify and address the children who need immediate and sustained assistance. This year, we passed legislation that expands the designation requirements to include victims of human trafficking. Unfortunately, we have seen a growing number of child sex and labor trafficking incidents in Indiana. This new law allows DCS to successfully file CHINS petitions to help these vulnerable youth access necessary services. 

To help protect students while they are in the classroom, I sponsored legislation creating an emergency response system in schools. By July 2017, the Department of Homeland Security is required to establish guidelines for these systems, which allow educators to communicate with first responders during a school emergency. Indiana is a leader on this front as we will be one of the first states to create these school safety standards.

I will continue to work for you and the children of our state. I am always available to listen to your thoughts and even serve as a liaison between you and state agencies to ensure you and your family are receiving the assistance you deserve. You can contact me at 317-232-9509 or at h31@iga.in.gov. I also encourage you to sign up to receive my e-newsletter at www.in.gov/h31.

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State Rep. Kevin Mahan (R-Hartford City) represents

portions of Blackford, Delaware, Grant and Wells counties.