Mahan: Supporting Hoosier children

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, March 4, 2016 8:42 am

Supporting Hoosier children

As a member of the House Committee on Family, Children and Human Affairs and, most important, as a parent, protecting Hoosier children is one of my top priorities. This session, lawmakers have made great strides in addressing problems children are facing today both in the classroom and at home.

One piece of legislation I sponsored and believe could make a big impact on Hoosier schools is Senate Bill (SB) 147. This bill would equip teachers and school administrators with technology to notify first responders in the case of a crisis. It is our responsibility, as state legislators, to protect Hoosier children and educators. This legislation will help create an environment where students will be able to focus on their education and not worry about their safety. Indiana will be one of the first states to create these school safety standards. After passing unanimously out of both chambers, it will now be examined further by the Senate.

Unfortunately, too many Hoosier children are not even safe in their own homes. At the end of 2015, the Indiana Department of Child Services removed 14,200 endangered children from their homes. There were about 20,100 Children in Need of Services (CHINS) cases that year. Senate Bill 26 would simplify the process for filing a CHINS petition with the court in situations where a non-victim child is living in the same household as an adult who has committed a sex crime against another child. In some cases, one child in the household has been victimized, but another cohabitating child was not. The new provisions would also apply to children who need treatment or rehabilitation but are unlikely to receive it without the intervention of the courts. I believe this bill is vital, as it relates to the well-being of our most vulnerable children—those that are in unsafe households and those who need special care. If enacted, this legislation will further prevent abuse and neglect of children by identifying and helping them faster. 

Other important legislation I supported that would help protect Hoosier children was SB 131. Currently, Indiana Code has no definition of “life threatening” or “near fatality” in regards to child abuse cases. Drawing from definitions in U.S. federal code, SB 131 establishes uniform standards and reporting requirements for our state. After passing out of both the House and Senate unanimously, this legislation is now eligible for consideration by the governor. All three of these bills our committee passed build on previous efforts to protect Indiana’s most vulnerable and precious resource: our Hoosier children.

Session is quickly wrapping up. If you have comments or concerns on any legislation, contact me at h31@iga.in.gov or (317) 232-9509. For more information on legislation coming before the House in its final weeks visit, www.iga.in.gov.

 

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Rep. Mahan represents portions of Blackford, Delaware, Grant and Wells counties.