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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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January is National Blood Donor Month

According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds. To put that in perspective, approximately 38 people will need blood in the time it takes to read this blog post.

January is National Blood Donor month, and blood banks across the state are desperate for donations. The Indiana Blood Center started the 2018 year with less than a day’s supply. Blood types such as B-positive, O-positive and O-negative, are critically low in stock. O-negative, the universal donor, is the most sought after because not all blood types are compatible. However, it is still vital to have a ready supply of all types in order to prepare for emergency situations.

The American Red Cross is facing a shortage with 61,000 fewer donations than normal. When considering how one pint — or one donation — of blood can save up to three lives, over 180,000 people could have been helped. That is nearly equivalent to the population of Evansville, Valparaiso, and Zionsville combined.

There is no way to replicate or substitute human blood, which is why donations are crucial. Typically, it takes less than an hour and a half to donate blood and save a life. That time includes going over the donor’s medical history, getting a small physical, the act of donating blood and recovering with snacks.

There are many locations throughout Indiana where you can donate blood. Find the center nearest you by searching through Indiana Blood Center’s locations here. The American Red Cross shows blood drives in your area when you provide your zip code. Both organizations allow for scheduled appointments or walk-ins.

To learn more about the donation process, eligibility requirements, safety and more, take a look at the Donation FAQ page on the Red Cross website.

For more facts and statistics about the donation process, check out the Indiana Blood Center’s website, or the American Red Cross page.

Start of Session

The 2018 legislative session kicked off earlier this month with House Speaker Brian C. Bosma announcing the House Republican agenda.

In addition to strengthening Indiana’s workforce, attacking the opioid epidemic and increasing government efficiency, Indiana House Republicans will focus on boosting educational funding for K-12 schools to account for a higher than expected increase in enrollment for traditional public schools.

There are many important issues being addressed this legislative session that affect Hoosiers across the state. Multiple resources are available to help you stay informed as new laws are being made.

Track legislation, watch committee meetings and view session live on the Indiana General Assembly’s website here.

Stay up-to-date with your local representative by signing up at the bottom of our homepage, www.indianahouserepublicans.com, to receive electronic newsletters.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat for quick updates, photos, videos and more!

Spend a day at the Indiana Statehouse

Applications are now open for students interested in participating in the Indiana House Page Program.

This unique hands-on experience helps students learn how laws are made in Indiana while inspiring the next generation of leaders to get involved in public service.

To be a page, applicants should be between the ages of 13 and 18, which is typically grades six through 12.

Students participating in this interactive educational experience receive an excused absence from school. While at the Statehouse, House pages tour historical sites like the House and Senate chambers, the Indiana Supreme Court and the governor’s office. They have the opportunity to meet their state representative and observe the legislative session directly from the floor of the House, listening to debates on important policy issues. Pages are also assigned age-appropriate tasks like delivering important messages and sorting files.

The 2018 session begins Jan. 3, and House pages are scheduled for Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays for the duration of each legislative session. Large groups and clubs can be scheduled to page on Wednesdays. If you would like to schedule participating siblings and friends together, please be sure to note that preference when signing up.

Page positions fill quickly, so please be sure to sign up early by clicking here.

Give the gift of higher education

Looking for a last-minute gift for the holidays? Investing in a child’s future has never been easier!

Indiana’s CollegeChoice 529 Direct Savings Plan helps families save for post-secondary education expenses. These plans make it easier than ever to start saving for higher education early with flexible investment options, a generous state tax incentive for contributions to a savings account, an affordable minimum contribution amount of $10, and easy ways for families and friends to contribute.

Accounts grow tax-free as long as the money is withdrawn to pay for qualified education expenses like books, tuition, room and board, computers, and other fees. Account beneficiaries may use their savings at any college or university that accepts federal financial aid, not just Indiana institutions.

Thanks to Indiana’s CollegeChoice 529 Plans, more than $4 billion has been invested in more than 330,000 accounts, helping make higher education more accessible for young Hoosiers.

To learn more or to open a CollegeChoice 529 account, visit www.collegechoicedirect.com.

STEM Fest 2018

The Indiana Pacers and Conexus Indiana are hosting STEM Fest 2018!

The interactive event will take place on Sunday, Feb. 11, and is open to students of all ages and their families. It is a great opportunity to learn how science, technology, engineering and mathematics are used in sports and other careers.

Throughout the day, students and their families will be partnered with a mentor from a local company, university or non-profit organization while participating in several STEM activities. Representatives from universities and STEM organizations will be available to discuss future career paths for those interested.

Tickets are $10 a person and include admission to the event and the Pacers vs. New York Knicks game at 5 p.m. that evening. Tickets must be purchased by Friday, Jan. 12, and will not be available for purchase at the door. To learn more and buy tickets, click here.

Scholarship Opportunity

Applications for the 2018 POWER Scholarship are being accepted through Dec. 20.

POWER is a caucus within the Indiana General Assembly primarily for female legislators interested in improving the quality of life for Hoosier residents.

The group is offering $750 scholarships to 18 women across the state, two women in each of Indiana’s nine congressional districts.

The scholarship is for non-traditional female students whose education was delayed or interrupted, with the hope of lessening the financial burden on those who are returning to school or seeking advancement in their careers. The scholarship may also benefit stay-at-home moms entering the workplace who are in need of additional education or training. When considering scholarship recipients, the organization is placing a high priority on those who give back to their communities, and whose goals and desires for education align with their passions.

One scholarship in each district will be awarded to a woman who is majoring full-time in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics program (STEM) at a higher education institution in Indiana.

Visit the POWER website for edibility requirements, selection criteria and other important information. Applications can be submitted online here.

Becoming a foster parent

Every child deserves a loving home to grow and learn, and at least one supportive parent to help foster a bright future.

The demand for foster families in Indiana has reached an all-time high. In fact, nearly twice as many children are in the foster care system than there are available foster homes, according to the Indiana Department of Child Services. More than half of these children have a parent with substance abuse issues – a growing problem due in part to the opioid epidemic.

Foster families provide an immediate source of stability and safety for children who have experienced trauma, with the hopeful intention of reuniting the child with their birth family. Some children are only placed in a foster home for a few days while others can be in foster care for more than a year. No matter the period of time, these children are able to continue to grow and thrive in a nurturing home provided by foster care.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be married or own a home to become a licensed foster parent, and you only need to be 21 years old or older. There is also no requirement that you have children of your own. Some children benefit from having other children in their foster homes and others are better off placed in a home with no other children, which is why it is important to have a variety of available foster families in Indiana’s foster care system.

Some steps that need to be met to ensure foster parents are capable and willing to take care of a child include passing a criminal history and background check, home visits to ensure safety standards, positive personal reference statements and completion of required training. View the full list of standards to become a licensed foster parent in Indiana here.

Children are placed with foster families through a matching program that addresses needs, abilities and resources of both the child and the family. Reimbursement is distributed to foster parents on a per diem, or per day, basis, and amounts vary based on the needs of the child.

To learn more about becoming a foster parent, click here, and to speak with a foster care specialist, call 812-234-0100.

To learn about the partnership between the Indiana House of Representatives and the Indiana Association for Resources and Child Advocacy Institute for Excellence, click here and follow #FosterHopeIndiana on social media.

Helping Indiana’s foster families

In Indiana, nearly twice as many children are in the foster care system than there are available foster homes, according to the Indiana Department of Child Services. More than half of these children have a parent with substance abuse issues – a growing problem due in part to the opioid epidemic. As the demand for foster families in Indiana reaches an all-time high, House lawmakers are finding ways to help children in need.

House Speaker Brian C. Bosma and House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath announced a partnership between the Indiana House of Representatives and the Indiana Association for Resources and Child Advocacy Institute for Excellence during the 2018 legislative session. The nonprofit organization serves over 4,600 children every day in foster homes, group homes and treatment facilities, and works closely with DCS to improve the lives of the children.

About 57 percent of all children entering the child welfare system are newborns through five years of age. Many of these children leave their homes with the clothes they have on or only what they can fit into a trash bag. This fact led legislators and House staff to launch a donation drive to collect needed items, like diapers and blankets, for foster families caring for newborns and infants. On Jan. 24, lawmakers plan to fill diaper bags with donated items during IARCA’s annual day at the Statehouse.

Statistics from DCS show the number of children in out-of-home care jumped from 13,811 in September 2015, to 17,214 just two years later. To help spread awareness and encourage more Hoosiers to consider fostering or adopting, legislators and IARCA launched a social media campaign using #FosterHopeIndiana and a new website, www.FosterHopeIndiana.org, with information for anyone looking for ways to help

The Indiana Heart Gallery, a traveling photo exhibit featuring portraits of children in need of adoptive families, will also be featured outside the House Chamber throughout the legislative session. According to DCS, about 150 children are available for adoption in Indiana at any given time.

Through our partnership with IARCA, we want to encourage more Hoosiers to open their hearts and change a life through fostering or adopting a child in need. If you aren’t able to care for a child, we encourage you to reach out to foster families in your area, as they too, need support and encouragement.

 

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

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