Friday, January 15, 2016

2016 Indiana House Bill HB 1338 CHINS cases and protection of Parenting Time

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
(C) community.
(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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Dare Hawes said...

BRAVO to Representative Tim Harman who carefully crafted HB 1338 with conviction and heart for Indiana's children based on his grievous, first hand experience regarding a case where a precious child has been wrongly, consistently, ruthlessly denied the nurturing care of her "most conscientious and exceptional parent" for YEARS...and she is still being heartlessly abused by "the system" due to certain custody judges and CPS. Bravo to the CPS employees and judges who truly, ethically seek to protect our abused/ neglected children--but in this case and too many others nationally a few bad apples have caused this child and her beloved parent/ family to suffer outrageous wrong---in violation of her civil rights! IF this bill is hopefully passed, as conscience dictates it must be, it will never undo the wrong inflicted at colossal cost to this child-now-teen. And, sadly, IF this bill is passed, it will never be stronger than the authorities entrusted to legally and ethically enact it. Too often in reality unethical CPS employees and judges are never held accountable by anyone for their ignorant and self-serving NOT child-serving decisions--some decisions that have and can result in a despairing child taking their own life!
In particular I appreciate the critical inclusion of protection for chosen independent "representatives" who too often, as in this case, are unethically silenced for their astute research and fact finding in cases that dare to expose the despicable wrongs of CPS FOR THE CHILD'S WELFARE AND SAFETY! In this case so mentioned, CPS officials falsified the facts to discredit the child's chosen advocate, which the judge rubberstamped effectively silencing the child's one, true voice--resulting in this dear "child" having absolutely NO LEGAL REPRESENTATION in violation of her civil rights throughout this ordeal, even though all the authorities have been persistently informed of their malicious, self-serving injustices to this innocent child-now-teen.
May God bless the exhaustive efforts of Representative Harman, and all others who sincerely seek to serve and protect Indiana's children-- in CPS, the courts, and our communities.

Mrs. Dare Hawes--23 years experience as a child advocate (I am an old lady and techie stupid,so don't know how to do the Google identity thingy...Sorry...I'd like to request a copy of my comments, please?)

Stuart Showalter - Child Custody Advisor said...

I will certainly be including this in my favourable bills message to all legislators. The current law requires the judge to rubber stamps a decision by CPS to remove a child's chosen advocate. That is horribly one-sided. Legislation, as you know, is only as good as the people who follow it but this should be a step toward greater acountability. Thank you for your comments.

Theresa Saylor said...

My 15 yr old son ran away from Alabama cps and after my son sit in juvinile jail almost 70 days and even cps in indiana said my son could come home and even my sons lawyer recommend my son come home cause my son was scared for his life to go back to Alabama cps because he been abused 14 months in alabama foster care. and im a legal resident here in ftwayne and the judge did wrong and sent my son back to Alabama cps any way and my son was threating suiside if he had to go back to cps alabama and the judge sent my son back to Alabama anyways and now they wont let me visit or even know which mental hospital they put him in and they wont let me talk to him

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