STATEHOUSE (March 10, 2016) – State Rep. Denny Zent’s (R-Angola) bill protecting foster families in Indiana is headed to the governor’s desk.
House Bill 1069 would add legal protections for foster parents. It would allow the juvenile court and the Department of Child Services to issue protective and restraining orders against a person who is threatening the well-being of a child or their foster family. The bill would also make violence against a member of a foster family a Level 6 felony instead of a Class B misdemeanor, if the person who committed the offense is a relative of a person who lived in the foster family home at the time of the offense.
“Foster parents play a vital role and deserve to feel safe as they nurture children,” Zent said. “If they feel threatened, foster families should not have to jump through hoops to obtain legal protections to make sure their households are secure.”
Zent said he wrote the bill in response to a Fremont woman’s experience with threatening text messages in a Fort Wayne store’s parking lot. The sender threatened to shoot her if she did not leave the foster baby in a shopping cart at the store. When the foster mother tried to obtain a protective order from a court, she found it to be a difficult process.
Zent said Evansville lawmaker and chair of the House Committee on the Courts and Criminal Code, State Rep. Thomas Washburne, played an integral role in crafting the proposal.
The bill will now go to the governor for consideration.
Rep. Zent (R-Angola) represents most of LaGrange and Steuben counties.