Over 2,200 bills are part of the Indiana Legislature’s “short session” right now. Of those bills, just 25 relate directly to child protection and safety. As Indiana’s rates of neglect and drug abuse send communities, families, and children into danger and despair, these are the bills we’re looking to for help.
SB 49, authored by Senators Glick, Ford, and Young requires that a permanency plan be filed in a court at the same time as the termination of a parent-child relationship. The goal here is to prevent children from moving around the foster care system.
HB 1080, authored by Re. Frizzell establishes a Commission on Improving the Status of Children. The Commission is charged with identifying and studying the funding, establishment, barriers to, and availability of various services to vulnerable youth.
SB 230 by Sen. Crider establishes an Internet Crimes Against Children Fund. Using $2 million from the State’s general fund, this bill would cover costs the State Police incur for training and purchasing equipment used in the investigation of child pornography, trafficking, and other crimes against children. Money can also be granted to cities, towns, and counties.
SB 246 by Senators Holdman and Head clarifies Indiana’s safe haven law to hold parents to neglect charges if they leave a child with anyone but an emergency medical services provider.
SB 280 by Sen. Lanane clarifies a child who is forced into the act of prostitution is a victim and not a criminal. Anyone over the age of 18 is still committing a criminal offense.
HB 1291 by Rep. Summers says schools can’t have their own internal policies for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. Indiana’s existing Mandated Reporter law requires everyone to report suspected child abuse and must do so to law enforcement or the Indiana Child Abuse hotline at 1-800-800-5556.
SB 355 by Senators Messmer, Grooms, and Mrvan requires the state Department of Education to create materials to help schools teach children about child abuse, neglect, and assault. Requires all schools to teach age-appropriate and evidence-based material in 2018. This bill has received testimony in support from Southwest Indiana Child Advocacy Center Executive Director Tammy Lampert. On February 13, SB 355 unanimously passed the Senate 49-0. Also included here by way of SB 447 is training and workforce development for teachers and educators on matters of abuse and neglect.
Deadlines are approaching to move bills out of committee and on to the house and senate floors. The Indiana legislature’s “short session” does not include budget bills and will conclude Saturday, April 29.