[R 76] Rep. McNamara: One child is too many (3/1/2012 - 3/5/2012)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Start Date: 3/1/2012
End Date: 3/5/2012 End Time: Midnight

One child is too many

Rep. Wendy McNamara (R- Mt. Vernon) sponsored Senate Bill 286, a bill that works to give the Department of Child Services (DCS) more tools to protect Hoosier children. This bill had bi-partisan support with Rep. Noe (R-Indianapolis) and Rep. Klinker (D-Lafayette) joining her in sponsoring the bill.

“This bill is about saving the lives of our most precious citizens. Losing even one child to abuse is simply one too many,” said Rep. McNamara. “This should not be a partisan issue; we all want to help. We all want to see this number at zero.”

In 2005, DCS became a standalone agency, allowing the General Assembly to focus resources on helping Indiana’s most vulnerable population. In recent years, DCS has seen a decrease in the number of children who die due to abuse or neglect. This legislation continues the mission of getting Indiana to zero childhood deaths due to abuse or neglect.

Two key amendments were added to Senate Bill 286. The first creates an interim study committee on DCS issues, encompassing the department’s new abuse-and-neglect hotline. The second allows alleged victims of sex crimes to receive services from the victim’s assistance program until they are 31. 

“This legislation was needed for a number of reasons, most importantly to allow our children in the most sensitive of situations to be better served and represented,” said Rep. McNamara.

Senate Bill 286 gives DCS the authority to conduct background checks of adult members who resides in a home prior to reuniting a child and their guardians. This is key because with the Safely Home, Families First initiative, DCS continues to increase the number of children who reside in their home and with their relatives. 

“Although we must keep in mind the distance we still have to go, this bill is a big step forward in ensuring that Hoosier children will be better protected,” said Rep. McNamara.

Senate Bill 286 passed on its final reading with unanimous support.