Wednesday, March 4, 2015

2015 Indiana House Bill 1370 - Department of Child Services continuing education funding

Indiana HB1370 has been introduced by Representatives Niezgodski, Burton, and Riecken. This bill would establish the department of child services education and performance fund to encourage employees to seek advanced degrees in a field related to child well-being. Similarly it would fund professional development for employees also. Each section of this bill provides a new section to the Indiana Code.

The first section, IC 6-3.1-35, provides a tax credit to employees who attend professional development courses. For each taxable year in which an individual is an eligible taxpayer, and participating in a professional development course, the taxpayer shall be awarded a refundable tax credit against the individual's state income tax liability. The credit equals five percent of the individual's wages paid by the department of child services. This applies to current employees who reside in Indiana and serve as a family case manager or family case manager supervisor.

The third section, 31-25-2-16.5, provides reimbursement for professional development course fees. These are courses which award or provide certifications, conferences, mentoring, seminars, leadership skills or lectures in an area related to the department's purpose. Up to $300 can be awarded to an employee for reimbursement of course fees.

The second section, IC 31-25-2-16.2, establishes the department of child services education and performance fund. The purpose of the fund is to encourage employees to pursue an advanced degree in a field related to the purpose of the department, minimize the cost an advanced degree for employees who are in the process of obtaining an advanced degree, and prevent the loss of employees from the department due to expenses related to tuition or student loans by granting loan repayment assistance to eligible employees.

To qualify for loan repayment assistance under this section, an individual must be an employee pursuing or have recently attained an advanced degree in an area related to the purpose of the department. The employee must have also enter into a written contract with the department agreeing to at least three consecutive years of employment with the department and meet any other criteria required by the department.

Loan repayment assistance of between $5,000 and $10,000 per year is awarded depending upon years of employment.

The final section, IC 31-25-2-16.9, applies to any appropriation made to the department for the purpose of providing training and facilitating compliance with and enforcement of the statutory requirements of the department including child placement and foster care. Money appropriated to the department does not revert to the state general fund at the end of any state fiscal year. Appropriated funds must remain available to the department until the purpose of the appropriation is fulfilled.

I am never a fan of government spending but this appears to be more of an investment. I feel that it will serve to encourage retaining or attracting case workers who are more inclined to dedicating themselves long-term to serving children rather than taking on the role as just a job or a stepping stone. With that in mind I support this legislation.

Click here to see other 2015 Indiana Child Custody and Child Support Payment bills.

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