Representative Timothy Harman has introduced House Bill 1338 relating to child representatives, foster care, and parenting time in CHINS cases. It has been referred to the committee on the Judiciary.
The first section of this bill would amend the CHINS statute IC 31-34-5-3 related to the detention of juveniles. Under current law a child who is believed to be a CHINS may be detained under certain conditions including absence of a parent. This bill would provide that when a child is taken into custody from the home of a parent, guardian, or custodian and is the subject of a previous court order that granted parenting time to a parent, guardian, or custodian who does not reside in the home from which the child was removed and was not a part of the allegation of abuse or neglect that resulted in removal of the child then the parenting time of that parent, guardian, or custodian shall continue as previously ordered.
The next section would amend the CHINS statute at IC 31-34-15-7 which allows a child to select up to two representatives to assist him or her in developing a case plan with the Department of Child Services. Under existing law DCS has the authority to reject a representative chosen by the child. This bill would allow DCS to only object to the selection of a representative. DCS would be required to file the objection with the court that found the child to be a child in need of services and state why the department believes the child representative would not act or has not acted in the best interests of the child. If the court determines that the DCS has demonstrated good cause regarding the objection then the court shall set a hearing to consider the objection. Both DCS and the child would be permitted to participate in the hearing. After a hearing the court may order the removal of a child representative if the court determines DCS established good cause to remove the child representative.
The next section would amend the CHINS statute at IC 31-34-20-1 which relates to dispositional decrees. It provides the same protection of parenting time orders as the detention portion of the bill. If a dispositional decree orders or approves removal of a child from the child's home or awards wardship of the child to DCS and the child is the subject of a previous court order that granted parenting time to a parent, guardian, or custodian who does not reside in the home from which the child was removed and was not a part of the allegation of abuse or neglect that resulted in an adjudication of the child as a child in need of services then the parenting time of the parent, guardian, or custodian described shall continue as previously ordered.
The next section would amend the CHINS statute at IC 31-34-21-7 which relates to permanency plans by establishing factors which the court may consider. These will look familiar at anyone who has been through a paternity or divorce case involving child custody. The difference here is that these considerations are not mandatory and do not include all eight factors.
The court may consider the following factors in establishing a permanency plan for the child:
(1) The age and sex of the child.
(2) The wishes of the child, with more consideration given to the child's wishes if the child is at least fourteen (14) years of age.
(3) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with:
(A) the child's parent or parents;
(B) the child's sibling; and
(C) any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests.
(4) The child's adjustment to the child's:
(A) home or placement;
(B) school; and
(5) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
The fifth section would add a new section to the CHINS statute at IC 31-34-23-1.5 which relates to a child in foster care. It provides that if the child is in foster care and reaches the age of 18 that the child may opt out of foster care.
The final section applies the same standards and procedure to probation officers objecting to a child’s selection of a representative as is applied to DCS objecting.
I think this is great legislation that provides some judicial oversight of CPS and protects the interests of parents who were not part of the abuse or neglect which resulted in their child being detained subject to a CHINS dispositional decree. I will be contacting legislators and asking them to support this bill.
If you support this bill please ask the Chair of the Committee on the Judiciary, Greg Steuerwald, to set HB1338 for hearing. The progress of this bill will be updated on the posting List of 2016 Indiana Child Custody, Child Support, Domestic Violence, and Child Well-Being bills.
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