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January 2019

Protecting Indiana’s Most Vulnerable

Legislators are working to further protect young Hoosiers in need by reforming the Department of Child Services.

While Indiana’s child welfare system has strengths, there are challenges to be addressed so that those in need have better outcomes. A proposal for a new law would implement recommendations based off national standards, best practices and the state’s unique needs.

A six-month assessment of DCS found that Indiana has a very high rate of children in out-of-home care, with more than half of the removals related to parental substance abuse. When families are struggling with substance abuse, treatment options and resources outside of DCS should be the first course of action to limit court involvement. To curb unnecessary removals, this legislation would more clearly define when a child is in need of services.

The assessment also determined nearly 45 percent of family case managers have caseloads above the state standard. To ensure case managers can provide effective services, caseload limits would be decreased.

To provide adequate time for employees to do their work, the bill would extend the timeframe for assessments to be completed by DCS caseworkers from 30 days to 45. Due to the rural nature of most of Indiana’s counties, the proposal would also allot two hours for caseworkers to conduct an on-site assessment, as opposed to one hour.

These changes, coupled with increased funding through the state budget, are part of a comprehensive effort to better serve the most vulnerable in our state and support Hoosier families in need.

To track this and other bills, watch committee meetings and view session live, visit the Indiana General Assembly’s website here.

Keeping Schools Safe

House Republicans are working to further improve safety for students, teachers and school staff across Indiana. Two bills have been proposed that would ensure better protection in our schools.

Indiana is a national leader in school safety, but it is clear more must be done. Proposed legislation would continue strengthening physical security and mental health resources in Hoosier schools. With over $100 million already invested, the billwould provide school systems more flexibility to qualify for school safety matching grants, which could be used toward mental health resources, partnerships with local law enforcement and school resource officers. Schools would also be required to collaborate with local mental health service providers to ensure essential mental health resources are accessible to students.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, uncontrolled post-trauma bleeding is the leading cause of preventable death among trauma patients. “Stop the Bleed” is a nationwide initiative that provides first-aid kits to help in emergency situations. In an effort to save lives, another bill would place “Stop the Bleed” kits in public schools. School personnel would be trained to use the kits, which consist of instructional documents, a tourniquet, bandages and other itemsto help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.

To track these and other bills, watch committee meetings and view session live, visit the Indiana General Assembly’s website here.

Elevating the Teaching Profession

This session, House Republicans are working on ways to put more dollars in teachers’ pockets. Three bills are making their way through the legislative process to help bolster the teaching profession and encourage schools to shift funds to educators.

Indiana spends more than $7 billion annually on K-12 education. Unfortunately, overhead costs have ballooned at many schools, and in some cases, less than 60 percent of the funding makes it to the classroom, taking critical dollars away from educators’ paychecks. To better compensate teachers, proposed legislation would incentivize schools to shift at least 85 percent of funds to the classroom. This new goal could free up millions of dollars and schools could drive funds to Hoosier educators and classrooms, potentially giving teachers statewide a 5 percent salary increase.

In addition, we are working to give teachers access to support and opportunities to grow professionally. Legislation would provide stronger incentives for schools to establish career ladders and mentorship programs where experienced educators would have the opportunity to earn more while helping guide new teachers during their first years in the classroom.

Another proposed law would establish a teacher residency grant pilot program. Similar to a traditional student teaching opportunity, the residency program would pair aspiring educators with veteran teachers for a full school year to gain critical classroom experience.

To track these and other bills, watch committee meetings and view session live, visit the Indiana General Assembly’s website here.

House Republicans Set Session Priorities

The 2019 legislative session kicked off this month and House Republicans are already working toward their legislative priorities, which include investing in our youth, workforce and future.

Legislators are working to further protect Hoosier youth with a proposal for a new law that would help reform the Department of Child Services, and another that would reduce Indiana’s infant mortality rate by engaging at-risk expecting mothers in early prenatal care. Another proposal addresses school safety concerns, and would increase physical security and mental health resources for students.

House Republicans are working to strengthen their commitment to students and teachers by incentivizing school corporations to shift dollars from operational expenses to teacher pay. To support the success of current and future teachers, other bills would improve professional development and mentoring programs.

While Indiana’s pro-growth policies and economic performance are ranked among the best in the nation, the state remains among the bottom third in most human capital and workforce rankings. To bolster Indiana’s workforce and talent pipeline, a bill would encourage early and continuing career exploration and navigation, reinvigorate career and technical education courses and encourage completion of certifications or postsecondary credentials. Another proposal would help honor Hoosier veterans while incentivizing them to stay and put their skills to work in Indiana.

Multiple resources are available to help you stay informed as new laws are being considered this session. Track legislation, watch committee meetings and view session live on the Indiana General Assembly’s website. Stay up-to-date with your local representative by signing up to receive electronic newsletters.

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

House Lawmakers Partner With Salvation Army

House Speaker Brian C. Bosma and House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta announced a partnership between the Indiana House of Representatives and the Indiana Division of The Salvation Army during the 2019 legislative session to increase awareness about child hunger.

Between lunch on Friday and breakfast on Monday, 1 in 5 Hoosier kids will go about 68 hours with limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Legislators and House staff are collecting new and gently used backpacks, and non-perishable food items like peanut butter, breakfast bars, cereal, canned fruit, crackers and oatmeal. On March 6, lawmakers plan to fill the backpacks at the Statehouse with collected food items, and The Salvation Army will distribute them to local schools across the state.

In addition to the donation drive, House lawmakers launched a social media campaign using #Eliminate68 to draw attention to the number of hours a child could be hungry over a weekend between school meals. Hoosiers can drop off donations outside of the House Chamber on the third floor of the Statehouse in Indianapolis through March 5, or make a monetary donation by contacting Susan Solmon at Susan_Solmon@usc.salvationarmy.org.

Nationally, The Salvation Army provides 156,000 meals every single day to people in need. Through our partnership, we want to help contribute to the organization’s massive impact in communities across the state and bring attention to food insecurity for Hoosier kids.

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