Monday, February 25, 2013

2013 Indiana Senate Bill 392 Child Abuse and Neglect Investigations - Legislation Part 32

Senator Yoder has introduced a bill that would authorize the Department of Child Services to hire more investigations to respond to purported reports of suspected child abuse or neglect.

Senate Bill 0392 affects the following citations :IC 31-25-2-5; IC 31-33-7-2. The synopsis is as follows:
Department of child services. Requires the department of child services (DCS) to hire additional employees by January 1, 2014. Requires DCS to assign for investigation all reports of child abuse or neglect that are received from a centralized call center to the local DCS office in the county where the child is located. Requires a local DCS office to investigate a report of child abuse or neglect received from certain individuals. Requires DCS to adopt rules to implement the provisions of this bill.

In 1974 Congress passed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act [CAPTA] which mandated that all adults in positions of responsibility with respect to a child were required to report to Child Protect Services or law enforcement authorities any known or suspected child abuse. In 1984 CAPTA was revised to include any adult, whether in a position of responsibility with respect to the child, to report suspected abuse or neglect within 36 hours. Further, an immunity provision was added to absolutely immune any person involved in the reporting or investigation process from any sort of charge or prosecution, criminal or civil.

The federal legislation was adopted into the Indiana Code through IC 31-33-5 et seq which is in the family law section. Failure to report is a Class B misdemeanor. Representative Davis has introduce a bill to move the duty to report neglect or abuse statute from the juvenile law title to the criminal title.

Not surprising are the incidents of the immunity provision being used to facilitate reports based upon vindictiveness or as part of a child custody litigation strategy. DCS employees also are relieved of a personal obligation to provide unbiased and truthful reporting and are free to allow their personal motivations to influence their findings.

According to the testimony of Senator Dan Coats before a Capitol Hill hearing, in 1963 there were 150,000 reported cases of abuse, in 1993 there were 2,898,000. Two thirds of these abuse and neglect allegations are unsubstantiated or determined to be unfounded, but that still leaves nearly a million children with documented abuse in a single year.

Many of those documented cases could actually be true. It would be helpful if case managers on actual cases had more time to dedicate towards ensuring the needs of the children. Instead of hiring more DCS investigators, creating an ever burgeoning government bureaucracy invading the sanctum of the family, it would be wiser to take efforts to reduce the incidents of false reporting.

If you have been falsely accused of abuse or neglect in a child custody proceeding then please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me.

If you would like to follow my activities more closely then send a friend request to my Political FaceBook page.

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More information about child custody rights and procedures may be found on the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates website.

©2008, 2013 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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