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House Committee Approves Bill Making Changes At DCS

terry_stigdon.jpg

Department of Child Services Director Terry Stigdon addresses a House committee. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)

House lawmakers easily advanced a bill out of committee Tuesday that would make changes at the Indiana Department of Child Services.

The bill stems from recommendations by an independent investigation of the agency last year.

Some of the changes involve initial assessments performed by DCS caseworkers after a report of a child in imminent danger. Those workers would now have more time to finish the assessment – 45 days instead of 30.

Bill author Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Danville) says they’d also have longer to begin – two hours instead of one. He says the one-hour standard was setting up DCS workers to fail.

“Please keep in mind that the worst of these cases, police are going to be there before. They’re going to be called and they’re going to have an emergency run; they’re going to be there," Steuerwald says. "So, it’s not like somebody’s left hanging.”

The legislation also allows foster care services until someone is 21-years-old, instead of a cutoff at age 18. And it eliminates poverty as a reason why a child can be removed from a home.

The bill passed unanimously and now heads to the House floor.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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