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What are your state legislators doing on your behalf? The Indiana House Republicans host a podcast each week to answer this  question and talk about what’s happening in your state government. The podcast features one-on-one interviews with lawmakers who highlight new laws, events and other issues impacting Hoosiers.

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Featured post

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month, an initiative to increase awareness and bring attention to the need for permanent families for children of all ages in the foster care system.

As of May 2017, about 8,000 Hoosier children were in a relative’s care, 7,200 were in foster care and about 1,000 children were in residential care, or group homes, in Indiana. The average child in the foster care system is 8-years-old and will spend more than three years in foster care. Unfortunately, 22,000 children nationwide age out of foster care, leaving them with no stable support system and putting them at a higher risk for negative outcomes.

In Indiana, the demand for families looking to adopt is growing. According to the Indiana Department of Child Services, about 150 Hoosier children are available for adoption at any given time. The Indiana Adoption Program, also known as the Special Needs Adoption Program (SNAP), seeks to find forever homes for Indiana’s children and older youth.

The Indiana Heart Gallery is a traveling photographic exhibit that features children in foster care in need of a loving home. The display was started by the DCS to allow these children to tell their stories and remind Hoosier families that adoption can change lives.

There are many statewide efforts to recognize adoptive families and promote adoption. Indiana courts are celebrating National Adoption Month by allowing photos and video recording in adoption proceedings. The courts will welcome approximately 220 children and their new families. Click here for a list of participating counties.

Click here for an interactive map with upcoming events across the state. To learn more about adoption in Indiana and to see a list of children waiting for adoption, click here or call 1-888-25ADOPT.

Stay tuned to learn about our upcoming partnership to help raise awareness about Indiana’s foster care needs on Organization Day, Nov. 21! #FosterHopeIndiana

DNR clarifies rifle laws for 2017 deer season

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has clarified the laws governing the use of rifles on public lands during deer hunting season.

The DNR signed an emergency rule on Nov. 3, which states that rifle cartridges that were allowed in previous years on public land will be allowed again this year during deer firearms season, the reduction zone season (in zones where local ordinances allow the use of a firearm), special hunts on other public lands such as state parks and national wildlife refuges and special antlerless season.  Legal rifle cartridges must fire a bullet of .357-inch diameter or larger, have a minimum case length of 1.16 inches and have a maximum case length of 1.8 inches to be used on public land.

If you would like information on the specific rifle requirements for deer hunting on private land, DNR has information available on their website under “Equipment.”

Free financial aid assistance

The single most important form for helping students receive money to go to college is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. All students, regardless of income level, who are planning to attend college must complete the FAFSA form every year. The FAFSA form is required for students to be considered for federal and state grants, scholarships and student loans.

The FAFSA must be filed by April 15, 2018, to be eligible for federal financial aid.

To help families navigate the application process, financial aid experts will be providing assistance for college bound students across Indiana during College Goal Sunday at 2 p.m. on Nov. 5. Students who attend could win one of 10, $1,000 scholarships. There will be 39 sites statewide – click here for the location nearest you.

Can’t make it to a College Goal Sunday event? Learn tips for filling out FAFSA and common mistakes to avoid here. You can also explore different types of financial aid by clicking here. If you need any assistance submitting the application, call 1-800-4FED-AID.

 

Free financial literacy courses

Online financial literacy courses are now being offered to high school students at no cost through the Indiana Moneywise initiative.

After starting as a pilot program in six Indiana counties during the 2016-2017 school year, Secretary of State Connie Lawson is expanding the Indiana MoneyWise Financial Education Program statewide to all Indiana high school students. The program consists of nine course modules, which take 45-50 minutes each to finish.

These web-based courses focus on banking, credit scores, consumer protection, higher education expenses, insurance and taxes, investing, payment types, renting versus owning and savings plans. The curriculum is derived from state and national financial education standards and adequately prepares students to be responsible for their financial future.

To find out more about the program, click here.

Celebrate Red Ribbon Week

Schools, organizations and individuals across the nation are celebrating Red Ribbon Week and encouraging children to stay drug-free.

The National Red Ribbon Campaign, sponsored by the National Family Partnership, began in 1985 in response to the murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena by drug traffickers. Americans of all ages began wearing red ribbons in honor of Camarena and in support of drug awareness.

Today, the Red Ribbon Campaign encourages schools and communities to participate in drug prevention activities. Here are a few ways the campaign suggests celebrating Red Ribbon Week:

  • Find creative ways to communicate the meaning behind this year’s theme, “Your Future Is Key, So Stay Drug Free;”
  • Sign the Red Ribbon Pledge;
  • Use the campaign’s curriculum ideas in classrooms or to start a discussion with your children at home;
  • Enter the Red Ribbon photo contest to win an iPad or $1,000 for your child’s school;
  • Share your support on Facebook or Twitter using #RedRibbonWeek; and
  • Send in your ideas to the 2018 Red Ribbon Theme Contest.

As we fight the national opioid epidemic, it is more important than ever that we work together to drive the message of staying drug-free to Hoosier kids so they can grow up safe and healthy.

Click here to learn more about the Red Ribbon Campaign and this year’s theme.

Prescription Drug Take Back Day

The Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force is promoting Prescription Drug Take Back Day. On Saturday, Oct. 28, multiple locations throughout the state will accept unused and expired prescription drugs.

Liquid and pill medications can be dropped off anonymously, with no questions asked, between the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Proper disposal of prescription drugs helps protect children and pets from accidental consumption, and also helps curb illegal drug use and theft. Indiana is working hard to combat the opioid epidemic, and with 4 out of 5 new heroin users starting with prescription medications; these take-back programs make a real difference in saving lives.

Unused and expired medicine also harms the environment. It is important to never wash any medicine down the drain or flush it down the toilet. Doing so contaminates Indiana’s rivers and groundwater. By properly disposing of medicine you are protecting yourself, your neighbors and the environment.

During the National Take Back Day event in April, Hoosiers safely turned in 17,803 pounds of prescription drugs.

Click here to find a drop off site near you.

Learn about safe disposal and storage methods for prescription drugs by clicking here.

Tips on applying for Federal Student Aid

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is now available for the 2018-2019 academic school year.

The FAFSA form is prepared annually to determine financial aid eligibility for college students or those planning on pursuing a post-secondary education. The deadline for filing is March 10, 2018. The form can be easily filed online at www.fafsa.gov.

To help families navigate the application process, financial aid experts will be providing assistance for college-bound students across Indiana during College Goal Sunday on Nov. 5. Students who attend could win a $1,000 scholarship. Click here to find a location near you.

Ivy Tech Community College will be hosting another statewide event on Oct. 25. During Express Enrollment Day, prospective students can tour Ivy Tech campuses, apply to the college, take assessment testing, register for classes and work on their FAFSA. Find a participating location and reserve your spot here.

Can’t make it to one of these events? Learn tips for filling out FAFSA and common mistakes to avoid here. You can also explore different types of financial aid by clicking here. If you need any assistance submitting the application, call 1-800-4FED-AID.

Also, don’t forget that applications for the Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship will be accepted through Nov. 30.

Inspiring the next generation of manufacturers

Indiana leads the nation in manufacturing jobs, so of course Hoosiers are celebrating Manufacturing Day!

Companies, organizations and institutions across the state are hosting events to highlight modern manufacturing and encourage Hoosiers to consider joining the manufacturing workforce. While national Manufacturing Day is officially Friday, Oct. 6, planned events are taking place throughout the entire month.

The National Association of Manufacturers provides resources and helpful step-by-step instructions for anyone interested in planning a Manufacturing Day event. Most events are plant tours to show the community what they do and how their products are produced from start to finish. However, plenty of non-manufacturers are hosting events, such as technical colleges and local economic development entities.

According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, there are nearly 15,000 advanced manufacturing jobs that need to be filled in Indiana. Manufacturing Day events are a great way to showcase the industry and inspire the next generation of manufacturers.

To help manufacturers in Indiana meet their workforce needs, two new grant programs will put Hoosiers to work in high-demand, high-wage industries, like manufacturing. Learn more here.

Visit the Manufacturing Day website to learn more about hosting an event or to find an event near you. Don’t forget to share your event photos on social media using #MFGDay17.

Is your family prepared for an emergency?

Now is the time to take action and prepare for disasters!

September is National Preparedness Month. We are all able to increase safety and help first responders save more lives by practicing how to respond during an emergency and what to do when disaster strikes. The goal of National Preparedness Month is to increase the overall number of individuals, families and communities that engage in preparedness actions at home, work, business and school.

Below are a few tips from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security to keep in mind when developing a family emergency response plan:

  • Make sure that important documents such as Social Security cards and bank statements are accounted for and readily available in the event of an evacuation.
  • Consider making digital copies of important documents, and make sure they’re secure and accessible.
  • Keep at least a one-week supply of important medications on hand, as they may not be available in a disaster.
  • Consider flood insurance coverage if it isn’t already in place. Be aware that most flood insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period before they can go into effect.

Technology has made it easier than ever to prepare for emergencies. FEMA and the American Red Cross have created multiple apps to keep you connected to tools and preparedness information. Social media is an easy way to let friends and family know you are safe during a disaster, but you can also register with American Red Cross’s Safe & Well site where your loved ones can search the list of those who have registered themselves as safe. It is also helpful to follow local governments on social media to stay up-to-date with official information before a disaster.

Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can. For additional preparedness and safety information, click here.

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