For immediate release:
Feb. 20, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS - Today the Indiana House of Representatives took a significant step in protecting children from being abused or neglected by passing bipartisan legislation by Rep. Gail Riecken (D-Evansville) that encompasses a host of child health and safety improvement laws.
House Bill 1123 is a product of the Department of Child Services (DCS) Interim Summer Study Committee, which included Riecken and other legislators from both parties. According to Riecken, the committee made great strides in coming together to develop and improve legislation concerning abused and neglected children, along with other issues.
“Both parties are concerned with improving DCS and making Indiana a safe and healthy place for children,” she said. “I was pleased to see everyone work together to develop and improve legislation to make child services more effective, and I applaud the committee for their willingness to consider proposals from all parties.”
The bill establishes a Commission on Children that would include decision-makers, appointed by the Governor, who will take recommendations from the statewide committee in helping form strategies to improve the status of children. They would deal with issues regarding child abuse, neglect, poverty, juvenile delinquency, and mental health—issues that affect the health and wellness of children. The bill also creates a legislative oversight committee as a subcommittee.
One of Riecken’s contributions included an addition to the bill to upgrade the Child Fatality Review Committee system—which addresses causes of child deaths in communities—by improving communication, accountability and transparency between local and state committees and the public. According to Riecken, this would aid communities in recognizing and solving the causes of fatalities for children in Indiana.
“This is the first step in preventing future fatalities, and it helps keep Indiana a safe and healthy place to live,” she said.
According to Riecken, the bill is a bipartisan effort that has received strong support from both sides of the aisle.
“Both parties put a lot of work into this legislation,” she said. “Not only does it demonstrate the General Assembly’s ability to work out important issues together, but it also undoubtedly has the best interests of Hoosier children in mind.”
The bill, authored by Rep. Kevin Mahan (R-Hartford City), and coauthored by Reps. Rebecca Kubacki (R-Syracuse) and Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis) with Riecken, passed through the House 97-0 and now will advance to the Senate for further consideration.