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Senator supports legislative leadership and presents a study of direct representatives for children in the CHINS, TPR case

The legislative council rejected a request to study the topic of providing lawyers to children in the child welfare system, but Senator Johnford of Indiana convened an independent research group to consider the matter. Will continue to drive the issue.

Senator John Ford

“I believe this lack of legal representation of children in the welfare system is a serious problem that we cannot and should not wait for the General Assembly to address,” Ford said in a news release. I did.

The Terre Haute Republican Party drafted Senate Bill 180 during the 2022 General Assembly session. This required the appointment of a lawyer to represent the minors of the child in need of service or termination of the custody proceedings. In the Senate, the bill was amended to only require that the topic be studied by the Interim Research Committee.

After sailing the upper room without opposition, the bill stalled at the Indiana House and was not heard by the Commission. Ford then said he and other lawmakers sent a letter to the Legislative Council urging the topic to be assigned to an interim research committee on child services.

The Legislative Council did not respect the request and instead assigned the Child Service Commission only one topic. In summer and fall, the Commission is tasked with reviewing child safety reports submitted by state and local child mortality review teams and the Indiana Department of Child Services.

Ford said his independent study included a roundtable meeting at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney Law School with stakeholders, legislators, judges, advocates of the local public, and more. He said the study wanted to “deeper into this issue.”

Senators did not provide details about when the investigation began and who would participate.

Proponents claim that a direct representative gives the child a say in the CHINS and TPR procedures. Now they have to rely on their guardian Adrite or a special advocate appointed by the court. They do not necessarily tell the court what the child wants, but what they believe in the best interests of the youth.

Indiana’s disability rights and better childhood have filed a lawsuit seeking to force Fuscher to provide legal counsel. But 7th The Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case and Ashley W., et al. v.Governor of Indiana, Eric Holcomb, etc... Closing the judge in the CHINS proceedings, 21-3028, can resolve many of the issues raised in the complaint.

In announcing his intention to conduct an independent study, Ford stated that Indiana is one of 14 states that does not provide lawyers to children in the welfare system. Still, DCS and parents are all appointed as legal counsel.

“It’s shocking that our child welfare system doesn’t provide a legal representative for some of our state’s most vulnerable Hoosiers,” Ford said. “Discussion this summer will reveal how we can address this issue and bring a bill to help the state better support children in the welfare system for the next session. I hope. “