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Houchin: Bill to increase child services accountability passes Senate unanimously

STATEHOUSE (Feb. 4, 2020) – A bill authored by State Sen. Erin Houchin (R-Salem) to increase oversight and accountability for the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) was recently approved by the State Senate with unanimous support.

Senate Bill 345 would create the Child Services Oversight Committee, comprised of members of the Senate, House of Representatives, and experts in the child services field to assess actions taken by DCS in certain circumstances, in an effort to improve the safety of children who are at risk of abuse and neglect.

In 2017 and 2018, a total of 130 Hoosier children died as a result of child abuse or neglect.

“As a former caseworker with the Department of Child Services, I understand that cases dealing with children in vulnerable situations are never easy to handle, and there is no perfect solution," said Houchin. "Having just one child die due to abuse or neglect is unacceptable, and I am confident SB 345 is a good first step in re-establishing robust oversight of DCS."

The oversight committee would review cases where DCS or juvenile courts had prior involvement with a child, and the child ultimately experienced a negative outcome, such as serious bodily injury from neglect or abuse in their home, or if a child fatality occurred in the child's home. The committee will then be tasked with providing policy, legislative, and training recommendations aimed at learning from past cases improving future outcomes.

"Understanding the causes of such heartbreaking incidents and fully analyzing actions taken before such tragedies occurred is an essential component to prevent similar outcomes for other children and families" said Houchin. "We have made great strides in improving outcomes for children in vulnerable situations, and this simple legislative oversight is another piece in our ongoing efforts to keep all Hoosier children safe."

SB 345 unanimously passed the Senate Tuesday, Feb. 3, and will now move to the House of Representatives for further consideration.


Click here for a high-resolution photo of Sen. Houchin.