So far, my first session as a legislator has been one new learning experience after another. More research, discussion and debate go into every law than I realized was possible.
A New Era of Protection for Children
My role as the vice chairman of the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee has opened my eyes to what we can all do improve the lives of children all around Indiana. For instance, did you know that every Hoosier is considered a “mandated reporter” of child abuse and neglect? Indiana law states that any individual who has a reason to believe a child is a victim of abuse or neglect is obligated to file a report. Children are the most vulnerable among us and deserve to be cared for and loved.
In 2005, Governor Mitch Daniels extended an executive order creating the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) to provide a comprehensive system charged with ensuring more direct attention to the protection of children and child support enforcement. Prior to DCS, all 92 counties in Indiana had their own local offices, funded and run entirely on their own. Calls reporting abuse and neglect were handled differently in each county without a consistent form of action occurring.
The Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline was established to bring consistency to the way abuse and neglect calls were managed across the state. It serves as the central reporting center in the state and is staffed with more than 60 specially-trained Family Case Managers who are equipped to handle the information correctly and ensure that the prudent next step is taken.
The Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year at-1-800-800-5556. You can report abuse or neglect anonymously without fear of someone knowing who filed the report.
DCS is 100 percent dedicated to making the safety of children their priority. Their values and beliefs are:
Values: Protecting our Children, Families and Future
DCS is a constantly evolving agency, always trying to improve in order to better serve children and families. I am honored to work closely with them and hope to see more Hoosiers stand up and help protect our states’ most vulnerable residents.
We have already addressed multiple bills when it comes to child safety this session, I will be writing about those next week.
In the meantime – if you ever see something, it is important to say something. We all must be vigilant protectors of our littlest Hoosiers. If you have questions, concerns or comments, I am available by phone at 317-232-9850 or email at H55@in.gov.
State Rep. Cindy Ziemke serves as Vice Chairman of the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee. She also serves on the Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development Committee and the Select Committee on Government Reduction. Rep. Ziemke represents portions of Rush, Fayette, Franklin, Ripley and Decatur counties.