A new state commission on helping Hoosier children has kicked off its discussions with a long laundry list of topics to address.
Supreme Court Justice Loretta Rush, a former juvenile judge, is chairing the panel, which grew out of a review last year of complaints about the Department of Child Services.
“One of the things that became readily apparent is that we need to have different agencies and groups that works with children at the state level communicate with regard to the children and youth they serve, so we can work together to do better for those children,” she says.
Rush says one key recommendation from that study was to improve communication and coordination among the multiple agencies which touch children‘s lives, from DCS and the Department of Education to the prison system and Division of Mental Health and Addiction.
Those agencies are represented on the 18-member commission, and came with their own priority list, and there is little overlap between them.
Family and Social Services Secretary Debra Minott says her agency‘s goals include school readiness and increased use of preventive health care among low-income families, while DCS director Mary Beth Bonaventura emphasizes early identification of at-risk youth.
One recurring theme from several agencies is to make sure children‘s services, from health care to addiction counseling, are available statewide, not just near big cities.