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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - More on "Call to End DCS Control of Juvenile Delinquency Funding" [Updated]

Updating this ILB post from August 26, quoting an Indiana Juvenile Justice Blog post that began:

It is time to take control of funding decisions for juvenile delinquency services away from the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS). This topic should be put on the agendas for the DCS Oversight Committee and/or the Commission on the Improving the Status of Children, as a means of initiating legislative change. Enough is enough. * * *

When all of the parties and participants — the prosecuting attorney, probation officer, defense attorney and child, parents, and judge — have sought residential placement or other services because they are very familiar with the family and the needs of the child, it is repugnant to be denied funding by a random bureaucrat somewhere.

Today the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has an editorial headed "Control at Risk." Some quotes:
When Indiana’s juvenile court officials make a recommendation for a troubled young person to be placed in a residential facility, one of five probation service consultants hired by the Department of Child Services looks at the paperwork to approve or deny the order.

The DCS consultant rules without ever hearing testimony in court; without meeting the young person affected; without speaking with the judge or probation officials who made the recommendation. In some cases, local juvenile authorities have been forced to take additional measures to ensure troubled children get the treatment they need.

“It’s time to take control of funding decisions for juvenile delinquency services away from (DCS),” writes Kaarin M. Lueck, a Wayne County public defender who writes the Indiana Juvenile Justice blog. “When all of the parties and participants – the prosecuting attorney, probation officer, defense attorney and child, parents, and judge – have sought residential placement or other services because they are very familiar with the family and the needs of the child, it is repugnant to be denied funding by a random bureaucrat somewhere.”

Lueck and other juvenile court officials and advocates want the authority for funding returned to the bench. They argue that the 2008 change in state law isn’t serving at-risk young people well. As a DCS oversight committee continues to fix problems in the state’s child protection system, it makes sense to review the agency’s role in reviewing orders in juvenile delinquency cases. * * *

Under the new leadership of former Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura, DCS operations have been undergoing welcome review. The agency’s role in juvenile delinquency cases is one she should examine.

ILB: The legislative Child Services Oversight Committee next meets Oct. 23, 2013.

According to this ILB post on the State Commission on Improving the Status of Children, "The commission's next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 16 in Indianapolis." This is a judicial commission, and the ILB does not believe it yet has a website, although there had been talk of one.

[Updated almost immediately]

The ILB has now heard from an informed reader that:

... a court just needs to enter findings [under Indiana Code § 31-34-19-6.1(e)] to overrule the consultant. Virtually every one of those cases appealed [under Appellate Rule 14.1] has then upheld the judge. I don't think DCS even bothers appealing them anymore, because they know the appellate courts will very likely side with the judge.

Here is an example.

ILB: This is not to say, however, that this area should not be clarified.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 10, 2013 09:00 AM
Posted to Indiana Government